With theatres, galleries, stores, and restaurants shuttered to flatten the COVID-19 curve, the Isolation Diaries reach out to Vancouver’s creative sector to find out what they’re watching, how they’re coping, and where they’re finding inspiration.
A classically trained pianist and singer who jumps easily from jazz to pop, Kerry O'Donovan is the former music director of Theatre Under the Stars. Aside from live theatre, he's worked extensively in film and TV, as well as improv comedy. You may also know him from the Encore! show he does with Sean Allen--Vancouver’s only musical theatre sing-along and piano bar night, at the Pumpjack Pub, and a series that has moved, much to the delight of local Broadway fans, to a Facebook Live event.
But these days, with stages closed due to COVID-19 measures, he's become celebrated for something else: posting daily musical numbers, a #coronacover for every 24 hours of isolation, on his Facebook page. At last check he had surpassed 30, from the uplifting (Aladdin's "A Whole New World") to the reflective (Nick Cave's "Into My Arms") to the downright ballsy (Björk's "Hyperballad"). The most shared may be his soaring rendition of 'Shallow' with Madeleine Suddaby. See it and others on O'Donovan's new YouTube channel dedicated to the project.
No. 1 thing that’s getting you through
"At the moment, the daily 'corona covers' I'm making are giving me my raison d'être, because people seem to be enjoying them, and looking forward to them. And that, as a creative person, is giving me a sense of purpose, beyond making something and feeling like it's floating in the void. People are online a lot more of the day at the moment, and it feels like the things I'm posting are actually being noticed to a higher degree. It started as simply a sort of 'make-work' project, and now I have a backlog of songs planned for the coming weeks! I'm also recording the d occasional 'isolation duet' with a talented friend, when requested."
"I'm a master of 'pasta surprise', using whatever is in the fridge. But also gyoza. I love any food that comes in its own package (i.e. gyoza, tortellini, ravioli, perogies, et cetera)."
"Because of making these daily videos, I've been going down many a YouTube rabbit hole, but I'll treat this as a 'desert island' ask, and say that if I'm in a bad mood, an album that instantly cheers me up is the Crash Test Dummies' first album, The Ghosts That Haunt Me. They were my favourite band when I was about 13 or so, and the first two notes (an octave jump on piano; I'm humming it right now but you can't hear me, obviously...) make me feel at ease immediately."
Creative or learning outlet
"Making these videos, I started using iMovie, but quickly found it didn't have the editing capabilities I needed, so I've moved on to Final Cut Pro, and it's been like learning a new language. I'm watching the odd how-to video on YouTube, but have mostly figured it out on my own. I also found a Rubbermaid container full of all my old art supplies, so at the moment I'm doodling with watercolour pencils and my old calligraphy kit from my childhood. (I was that kind of nerdy kid.)"
"Since isolating, I've subscribed to both Disney+ and CraveTV, so on top of Netflix and cable I have more things than I could ever watch. I just finished watching His Dark Materials (which is my absolute favourite book series of all time), and I'm revisiting Slings & Arrows on CBC Gem, which is a brilliant Canadian classic."
"Stay busy, take your vitamins, comfort yourself with the music, books, and things that you love, don't force yourself to feel any way other than how you're feeling, or apologize to yourself about it. We're all in this together."