#RiseMTL is Montreal Theatre Hub’s new journalistic series featuring local artists and companies who are spearheading creative community initiatives for artistic and social activity in response to COVID-19.
Abby Long is a rare breed of creator, connector, and contributor – a unique voice in the Montreal theatre community that has captured the regard of artists and audiences alike in her singular artistry, bold presence, disarming vulnerability, and generosity of spirit.
Musicals, drag, circus/acrobatics, and puppetry are among the impressive performance credits on her theatrical résume, but it is the competence of her expansive and inclusive mindset that here lends itself to creation against circumstances and odds.
“I have a mixed background (I am used to Youtube and film), so I am regularly thinking up media options,” she begins when asked what prompted her to launch Abby Long Live!, a new digital performance initiative in response to a time of dark quarantine away from the bright lights of city stage entertainment.
“I’ve worked through some big life struggles and isolation which has trained my empathy and made me solution oriented. I have also now done a few shows (like my ‘Broadway Dreams’ concerts with Chris Barillaro), helping me see that there is an interest in my voice. With all the stress and isolation, I know there is an importance of sharing positivity, calm and care.”
“Abby Long (and so do you)” is the message the artiste works to disseminate and instil in her approach to her craft and in her relationships. The reception has been stirring.
“My first reaction was writing to people individually and then I saw how moved the drag community, for example, was when I shared a video of me playing and singing ‘Rise Up’ by Andra Day for the first live online drag show in Montreal last Tuesday. This video that I did for myself while feeling emotional and alone had touched so many that I actually got messages from people saying that they were in tears.”
In another instance of inspiration, “Chris Barillaro did an evening playing showtunes so we could sing a long, and we had a lovely time. His viewers ranged from 50-60 throughout his ‘live’. That’s 50-60 who got to enjoy an hour together in self-isolation at the same time (like the Netflix party plug-in tries to do), singing songs and writing to each other over video,” she reflects.
“I realized I could do that again now, and I have everything I need to at least try.”
And herein, the genesis of Abby Long Live!.
“As a full time artist, with everything cut off (I have no income), I now have lots of time. But I also have more energy to check in with friends. Music has been a big tool for me to work through my struggles, including depression and some other more personal stuff. When people come to my shows they know we are going to care about each other. Online there can be a lot of hate. But right now online is the only way we really have to connect, so I think it is worth a try. I put a lot of heart into everything I do, so hopefully people can look past my slightly out of tune piano and enjoy singing.”
The first edition of Abby Long Live! will be streamed on Wednesday, March 25th at 8:00 PM EST via the Instagram account @abbylongandsodoyou / www.instagram.com/abbylongandsodoyou
More information can also be found on the Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/s/abby-goes-live/2962619060465784/
#RiseMTL by Montreal Theatre Hub
Are you or do you know of someone who has started a creative community initiative in response to COVID-19? We’d love to feature it as part of our #RiseMTL series. E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org