Okay, so, this summer isn’t as "back-to-normal" as we’d hoped.
As we wait on receiving both our vaccinations, the province is in a sort of stand-still on what we can do and can’t do. We still can’t cross the border for any sort of non-essential travel, most of our events have been cut down to adhere to social-distancing, and does anyone else feel weird seeing people without a mask on?
Bard on the Beach is a no-go, the Honda Celebration of Lights fireworks was nixed, the Pride Parade was cancelled, and nightclubs–while they have reopened–aren’t allowing any sort of dancing to happen, which, you know, sorta defeats the purpose.
On top of all this, we had that insane heat wave at the end of last month and now we’re all 70 bucks poorer after an emergency trip to Walmart for a new fan and a box of Cyclone Popsicles.
But despite all this, we can all agree that this summer is looking up, and Vancouverites are determined to not less this summer be a repeat of last year.
We spoke to some folks around town to see what last summer was like, and how they’re spending this one.
Lauren McGibbon, actress
“I started 2020 in Los Angeles, my first pilot season, the time when new TV shows are put together. Lots of great auditions! Boy did I pick the wrong year! I went from excitement in advancing my career to watching the film industry stop all together. It was too terrifying to process so I distracted myself by taking too many Zoom acting and writing classes. I burnt out just in time for the dawn of the self-tape home-audition era. That meant for every audition, on top of working on performance, I was now my own cinematographer, light designer and editor. I hope to never have to look at my own face in iMovie ever again.”
From your perspective as an actor, how has the industry changed between this summer and last?
“The biggest change that impacted me as an actress was the casting process. All auditions this year were done by self-taping yourself at home. I did work last year—Scaredy Cats, coming to Netflix in October—so I assume I did it to some success. But there is a magic to the ritual of going to the office, waiting, getting your name called—and then they close the door and it’s show time! It’s hard to send tape after tape into the abyss with no feedback. A warm smile from a casting director goes a long way for morale in an industry of constant rejection. I can’t wait to wait in a waiting room again.”
“Mid-July I’m headed to Penticton to teach for my acting mentor Kate Twa at Tempest Theatre and Film Society. It’s a refurbished church. How amazingly dramatic is that? Working with other actors in person! Zoom was a life raft for connection in a stressful time. Being on set was great, but health restrictions presented their challenges in feeling connected. How could anything replace the magic we all feel at the theatre? Even movie theatres. Ever noticed how people are friendlier to each other at the end of a movie than at the beginning? Not a coincidence. Stories bring us together. We all need a whole lot of that after the year we’ve had. That and Popsicles at the beach.”
Jesse Neate, retail operations manager of JJ Bean
“When the restrictions were softened we saw friends in limited settings, but most of our time was spent with my family. We have a large group of 10 adults and 10 children, so it was always very difficult and frustrating trying to manage within the rules. Ninety per cent of my camping or trips that I had planned throughout the summer were cancelled due to most of my scheduled plans [being made before restrictions lifted]. We also couldn't visit my mom’s side of the family as they live in Bellingham.”
What major changes have you needed to implement at JJ Bean between this summer and last?
“No major changes—just continued to deal with the same crap. Continued awareness of the situation at hand and always being on our toes. Adding patio spaces where available, the addition of further protocols/ppe and constant dialogue amongst our teams. The largest issues were all people-related. Dealing with continual fights between customers and our staff and the navigating between everyone who has a very strong opinion, on both sides of the issue: either we weren’t doing enough or we were doing too much.”
“Just biking and being outdoors trying to keep three kids entertained. Still can't see my family in the U.S. and most of my camping got cancelled again this year. Just hanging with my family trying to stay sane and not too hot. Thankfully, my parents have a pool so that helps.”
Jenell Parsons, owner of The Pie Hole
“On a personal level, having a young four-year-old daughter, I wanted her to enjoy her summer as much as possible and have the memories that kids deserve to have. A lot of outdoor dinners at parks and the beach!”
What major changes have you needed to implement between this summer and last at The Pie Hole?
“There was, and still is to some extent, a lot of uncertainty last summer. Running a business was challenging with every change in restrictions. Trying to think outside the box, be creative to keep staff and our community safe while finding ways to keep my shops open. We leaned heavily on take-out, and while we still haven’t reinstated seating in our shops we are very hopeful that we are weeks, if not days, away from that!”
“We are hoping to do a little family vacation to the Okanagan to visit some family for the first time in a long time. We also enjoyed last summers’ evening dinners at the beach so much that we plan to continue those.”
Jeb Beach, actor and acting coach
“For me, last summer is a bit of a blur. There was very little down time, and life was about getting through all the change. The major high point was welcoming my daughter—our fourth child—to the world in August. Her big brothers and sister were pretty thrilled as well. The rest of the time was some intense hard work: mastering teaching and acting live online through Zoom, embracing the change, and staying positive.
“It was a thrill and relief to see the film and TV industry return in late June, and I was grateful to be one of the actors fortunate enough to book a couple roles right out of the gate. Overall, I’ll say it was one of the most challenging and most rewarding summers of my life….but I’m pretty happy to have it behind me and to be where we are today!”
“From an activity standpoint, the industry feels ‘back to normal,’ which is fantastic. The change has been in the adaptation of working remotely for so many aspects of the work. For example: auditioning and coaching/training over Zoom, actors creating self-tape studios at home, and COVID safety protocols on set. It’s been inspiring to see our industry apply its resilience and creativity to adapt so readily and successfully to keep the show ‘going on’ through it all. I'm proud to have been one of those leading the way with JBA, but as B.C. is moving into Phase 3 and Phase 4 it’s so exciting to know that I can get back into teaching actors in person and auditioning live again. The outlook looks and feels much more certain and positive than last year.
“For us, it’s going to be about reconnecting with family this summer. I’m especially excited to have my kids able to spend some time with their grandma. My mom can finally hold our youngest for the first time. That's going to be a big moment for us all. We're looking forward to hosting a proper first birthday party this August. Beyond that, we’ll plan to get some BC excursions under way, get to the beach often, and explore some nature. I’m really looking forward to finding all the re-emerging options for us now that we are opening back up.”
Dan Managan, singer/songwriter
“My summer last year involved grieving cancelled festivals and plans to see family in the U.S., keeping daily watches on provincial guidelines to see what would be possible, and when suitable, embracing the incredible environment around us here in the Lower Mainland. We did lots of day trips to Rice Lake, and had some magical stays in Whistler and Bowen Island.”
“This year, I’m happy to report that I’m double-vaxxed, and there are festivals in my calendar. We’ve fallen in love with Bowen and will definitely be returning there!”