For now, Ms. Amill’s partner’s income has kept the couple solvent. “I’m a very independent person, so it’s hard to lean on him, but he’s been very understanding and loving,” she said. Some of her theater friends have split up during the pandemic. She felt lucky. “This has strengthened our relationship.”
Jen Schriever, the lighting designer, lost her agent because the pandemic drove him out of business. For her, the pandemic has meant a rare chance to catch her breath. “We pulled our 3-year-old out of pre-K, so I’ve been a full-time mom in a way I haven’t been since my son was 4 weeks old,” she said. “So it’s been kind of a blessing.”
The family eats dinner together almost every night, a ritual Ms. Schriever had not experienced since childhood.
For some people in the production, the move to unemployment actually increased their incomes. Ryan Kane and Joan Sergay, both recently out of college and working on fellowships at the theater, had earned weekly stipends of $300, plus a MetroCard. The $600 supplement to unemployment, which ran until the end of July, more than doubled their weekly incomes.
But they felt the loss in other ways. “Selling Kabul” was the third and final play in their fellowships, which they hoped would lead to their next jobs. Suddenly there were no opportunities to meet the people who might hire them. Ms. Sergay, whose fellowship was in directing, hopped a train to her parents’ house in Maryland the night “Selling Kabul” shut down and let the lease on her Brooklyn apartment expire. Since then she has been earning money by tutoring via Zoom and has scrapped any plans for the near future. “I feel I’m waiting for life to begin again,” she said. “Most of why I was in New York was the theater.”
Mr. Kane, the stage management fellow, also left for his parents’ home but returned to New York in July, finding a room in Bushwick, Brooklyn, for $750 a month. With the money he saved from unemployment, he said, he figures he can last four more months.
For others, even as they managed the financial shock, they still faced the loss of purpose and meaning that came from the work. After all, few people go into theater for the money.