20 questions (pandemic edition) with Sarah Richardson

This week we check in with music director, performer and founding member of Whale Song Theatre, Sarah Richardson.

Sarah Richardson
Sarah Richardson

During this time of social distancing and dark venues, Halifax Presents continues to check-in with members of our arts community to find out how they are staying creative and managing during the pandemic.

This week we check in with music director, performer and founding member of Whale Song Theatre, Sarah Richardson.

1. How are you staying creative during the pandemic?

This was actually a difficult one for me in the beginning. I felt very conflicted. I had a very hard time reconciling doing things I loved in a time I didn’t like (usually, I’m an avid musician and knitter).

I did, however, decide I was going to sing a karaoke song a day. I had no real end date, so I ended up doing 100 songs in 100 days, ending just as the Atlantic bubble opened. Since that time, my band has been jamming again, which is amazing. We’re currently working on our second album.

Recently, I was invited out to Ship’s Company Theatre to help dramaturg a youth playwriting program. It was such a wonderful experience. I didn’t realize how good it was going to feel to be creative again… how much I needed it. I’m very excited for the next phase of this series too!  At the beginning of October, barring any unforeseen circumstances, the Ship will be producing the plays created by these youth! What a wonderful experience for them to see their hard work and creativity brought to life by professionals!

2. What’s the one thing getting you through?

Honestly, my amazing friends. They’ve been there for me throughout the pandemic. It’s so important to have people who check-in, and who are there through the good and bad moments.

3. How are you staying in contact with family and friends who are not in your bubble?

The majority of my family is actually not in Nova Scotia, so FaceTime and email have been a pretty regular method of communication for us. I know some people are conflicted and burnt out with Zoom, but it’s been a great way of staying in touch with my friends as well. And of course, I’m a huge fan of texting.

4. What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned so far during the pandemic?

Practice instant forgiveness. And kindness. We’re all dealing with things in our own ways. There is no right or wrong way to process this. Just breathe and forgive. And be kind, to yourself especially.

5. What do you feel the most grateful for right now?

Not gonna lie, CERB was a lifesaver. I usually work 2-3 jobs. ALL of my jobs are contingent on there being audiences. Because of CERB, I am able to continue having a roof over my head, and food in my belly.

6. What is something you are doing now that you don’t normally?

I have been baking! At the beginning of all this, I started baking because I honestly didn’t know what to do with all my time. Cookies, cakes… mostly desserts. I make some killer pumpkin spice cookies. But, in order to save me from myself, I knew I couldn’t keep all those sweets in my apartment. So, I started dropping containers of goodies at my neighbours’ doors. Every time I baked a batch of cookies or a cake, they would get treats. As it turns out, I kind of started a little baking movement. One day, I stepped out my door, and there were goodies there from one of my neighbours! It was such a lovely thing.

7. What skill have you developed since the pandemic started?

The ability to keep green things alive. Haha! Usually, I kill plants, mostly because I forget to water them when I’m on a hectic schedule. But during this forced slow down, I am very happy to report I have some thriving beauties!

8. What have you missed the most?

Theatre. Live audiences. Hugs. A sense of control.

9. Your #1 pandemic survival tip.

Feel safe. In whatever way that may mean to you. Emotionally, physically…. Take care of yourself in the ways you need to. This is all strange… find your comforts where you can.

10. Your biggest indulgence since the pandemic started.

I buy myself fresh flowers every week. It brightens my home and my spirits.

I also subscribe to Real Fake Meats Friday meal plans. Their food is amazing, and each meal actually lasts me four days! Best money I ever spent AND I get to support local business.

Oh! And a friend installed a multi-speed ceiling fan in my bedroom and got me an amazing pillow for my bed. It’s been a game-changer.

11. What have you stockpiled?

Plants! I have so many now! I love them!

12. What have you been reading?

Since the pandemic started, I have spent a lot of time learning more about my/our Indigenous cultures. Online courses, readings, workshops… there are so many resources publicly available. So much of our history is not taught to us in schools. And, as a Métis artist, I felt compelled to educate myself further.

13. What have you been watching?

I’m an entertainment junkie, so it’s been a joy to be able to stream so much amazing content. I’ve seen shows I would’ve never gotten the opportunity to see thanks to National Theatre Live and other amazing theatre companies. Not to mention having the time to binge-watch tv-series and movies. Basically, most of the series on FX.

14. What have you been listening to?

My heart.

15. What are you doing for exercise?

I’ve been working out every day. In September of last year, a few of us that regularly work at Neptune decided to join Evolve Fitness (another local business!). I was going to the gym 3-4 times a week when the pandemic shut everything down. Evolve rallied very quickly and created an entire program that they made available online. Not only that, but they kindly leant out equipment to their clients so they could continue their fitness journeys from home. So, as of mid-March, I’ve been working out with them online every day. It’s helped me keep a sense of structure during all of this.

16. The one thing you haven’t been able to live without?

Tech. Admittedly, I’m not the most tech-savvy human, but I can’t imagine how much harder this all would have been without it.

17. Do-it-yourself haircut or the natural look?

Haha! Well, I do have bangs, so I was forced to cut them myself at least or surrender to looking like a sheepdog. But as soon as my stylist opened back up, I have to admit I booked an appointment. And once again, she has not done me wrong. She always makes me feel like a rockstar.

18. Night owl or early riser?

NIGHT. OWL. FOREVER. Call it a job hazard, but I have never been able to get off an evening schedule. I feel most inspired once the sun begins to set.

19. Will you be the first out as restrictions are gradually lifted or taking a wait-and-see attitude?

I definitely have been taking a wait-and-see attitude. I’m a little leery of the general public and their attitudes towards safety. I don’t think anyone is maliciously out there trying to infect people, but COVID is insidious and undiscriminating. Right now, my heart is just with our teachers as students return to school.

20. What’s the first thing you will do when this is all over?

Revel in the beauty of live theatre. I can’t wait to get back in a rehearsal room… to get back on a stage… to play music again… to share moments with people who love that world as much as I do, and who live for those moments they can share it with others.

Meet Sarah Richardson

Sarah Richardson is a Libra vegetarian who loves short walks and has an affinity for industrial sewing machines. She and her two cats live happily in the north end of Halifax. When not in a pandemic, you can often find Sarah playing music in varying settings. Sometimes three floors down in the musician’s pit of Neptune, sometimes singing lead in her band, the Blackrats. And, depending on the day, sometimes both!