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The PLAY After Tomorrow (It’s Wicked Cold)

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It’s a tough time to be doing theatre in Boston right now.

Let’s face it, it’s a tough time to be doing anything in Boston right now.

WCVB news calculates that it’s snowed 96.3 inches this season (in an article posted two days ago, and it snowed again yesterday, and today, so I’m simply dying to know where we’re at now…). By my count, we’ve had two official “blizzards,” two driving bans, and at least three days with city-wide cancelled MBTA service. Assuming no major disasters happen tomorrow, this will have been the first full week of classes Boston University has had this semester – though still not without a “snow day,” as both campuses were closed Sunday due to the latest blizzard.

I’m a born Masshole and have lived here all my life, so I’m typically not one to particularly remark about the winter. It snows. It’s cold. Walking around is gross. Commonwealth Ave is a wind tunnel. All of this is business as usual. But this winter… is not. Let me tell you, if by some chance you aren’t reading this from Boston and experiencing it for yourself – it really is that bad. The snow is relentless, it just keeps coming, and it’s pretty much ruined public transit as we know it. Entire branches of the T have been shut down, or were just utterly unreliable, for days. The tracks of the Green B line still aren’t visible under inches of snow. It appears that the parking ban in Boston has just been lifted, because today for the first time I saw cars along Commonwealth Ave – hedged against mountainous snow banks that leave at least six feet between you and the sidewalk. There might by some miracle be a shoveled corridor allowing you to get off the street, but most likely you’ll be walking alongside the traffic to the end of the nearest block. Talk about scary. And the TRAFFIC. Holy God. It’s like rush hour from morning til night. Which means the buses are off schedule, and calling a cab or an Uber (assuming the driver can get to you) won’t get you anywhere any faster. The  bitter cold (20 mph winds today brought the real-feel temperature to -4 degrees…) means that walking instead is borderline dangerous, not to mention extremely difficult given the slush, ice, and possibility of unshoveled sidewalks. Wow, I hated writing that. The point is, even if you want to try, it’s extremely difficult to get anywhere in Boston right now. And our local economy is feeling it.

Businesses, especially small businesses, are suffering. The Boston Globe reported that “the drop-off in consumer spending, missed days at work, and transportation delays caused by the string of winter storms have already cost Massachusetts more than $1 billion in lost business activity.” A particular blow was dealt last weekend as a blizzard rolled in on Valentine’s Day, a holiday which it has been estimated represents a half-billion dollars for Massachusetts retailers and restaurants in related sales. Governor Baker has been repeatedly urging citizens to frequent their local businesses, and even attempted to help recover lost Valentine’s revenue by declaring this week “Valentine’s Week” – a time for customers to take the night out they might have skipped last Saturday. Several restaurants have continued their Valentine’s dinner specials throughout the week, such as the vegan/vegetarian restaurant Veggie Galaxy (Cambridge), in hopes of drawing in some of the lost crowds –

Did last weekend’s snow put a damper on your Valentine’s Day plans?
Here at Veggie Galaxy we had to cancel our Pre-Valentine’s Day dinner with the Boston Vegetarian Society, we lost one day of the special weekend since the T wasn’t running, and in general it just wasn’t as busy and festive as Valentine’s Day usually is around here because of the weather.
Gov. Baker has proclaimed this week “Valentine’s Week” in the Commonwealth of MA  to give everyone another chance to have a good Valentine’s Day, and we’re on board with that!
Our Kitchen will be offering, starting tonight, some of the special “finer diner” dishes we had planned for the BVS dinner, as our Blue Plate, our Seitan Cutlet Special and as a special fancy Appetizer. There will also be special desserts available this week.

(Veggie Galaxy Facebook page)

And our local theatre companies are no exception. The Huntington Theatre Company has cancelled two performances so far due to snow, including the opening performance and after-party of The Second Girl (the event was rescheduled for the following evening). I can’t speak to the revenue that theatres across the city have lost, but can imagine that it is very substantial. It’s just too difficult to get around right now. I myself was planning on seeing Uncle Jack tonight at BU’s Studio 210 (presented by the Boston Center for American Performance). Luckily there is a BU shuttle service to Huntington Ave, otherwise I would need to take at least two, if not three buses to get there. I waited in the bitter, bitter cold for over ten minutes and finally got on the shuttle, but the traffic was so unusually terrible that I missed the curtain time. It was too frigid to do anything else but head back home, which meant waiting in more icy negative degree weather for another delayed bus. Honestly, I’ve never experienced that level of cold. I truly wished I had just stayed home.

So what can we do? Not much, except try to collectively get through this winter. One BU College of Fine Arts student has taken it upon herself to try to ease the frustrations of MBTA passengers with a bit of humor. I don’t think theatre needs to be doing that. But the good news is, there’s a lot of great work happening right now. Second Girl has been getting exceptional reviews, and so has Uncle Jack. I’ve also been hearing plenty of buzz about Bridge Repertory Theatre of Boston’s Sixty Miles to Silver Lake

Though I returned home after my failed theatre-going endeavor freezing, bitter, and swearing to never leave the house again, I know I will. I have plans to see shows on both Friday and Saturday of this weekend. Though getting there will more than likely be an awful experience, I have hope that the play and opera I’ll be seeing will make it worthwhile. Life doesn’t stop when winter brings its worst, and I guess art doesn’t either. (At least, not yet.) And thank goodness for that!

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