A Creative Play by The Merry Beggars

The Merry Beggars began out of quarantine to support those artists whose livelihood suddenly disappeared in the face of the COVID-19 shutdown. They ran a contest in which writers could submit 10-minute radio plays. The response, they say in their introduction, was overwhelming. And so in 2020, they ran five quarantine plays.

From eerie futuristic storytelling to touching moments of too much or too little isolation, the tales run the gambit. I look forward to listening to more.

They released “The Dailies: Art and Culture to Refresh Your Soul” in Spring 2021 and “Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol,” an audio advent calendar, on December 1.

These artists are making it work, and in the process, they are making something new.

Over twenty artists, makers and entrepreneurs united by their Catholic faith came together for two outdoor markets just outside of Hughson. In towns across the region, pop-up markets became the new trend, whether on front porches or outside businesses.

When community events were canceled, I went to the garden and my therapeutic hobby grew into a spring and early summer business.

When we make it work, something creative, energetic and beautiful emerges out of the process.

Change creates tension. The tension requires energy to work through. It also requires energy to fight against. When we dive in and actively work through the tension of change, we emerge smarter, stronger, and more creative.

When we resist, dig in our heels, we use just as much energy, but come out weakened and exhausted.

If we lament the life that was, rather than trying to work with the life that is, we miss all the good things in store now. We miss the new possibilities, the new avenues waiting to be explored.

A radio play borrows from the past and fits right into with today’s internet-based podcast-centric, play-on-demand listening sphere. It keeps its social distance but uses raised funds to pay actors from the stage whose theaters were shut down.

The changes and anxieties of this world do not have to dominate us.

What do you have control over? You may be called to activism in those areas that move your heart and spur your desire to do something, but you cannot change the world on every issue. You must give yourself permission to step back and consider what is your sphere of influence. And then act.

Some professions might have been crushed by the shutdowns. They lacked the security of other fields. The steadiness of their income is based on the reputation, reliable contacts and a body of work built up over time. If they stopped working altogether, they risked losing all the ground they gained. So they pressed forward, finding a way. And the community came forward, ready to support them.

Those artists, makers and entrepreneurs were recommended left and right by those who knew them. Word of mouth gained greater ground as we sought out who needed support and what they were about. Many grew weary of the dominance of big-box stores that could remain open and we wanted a way to support the little guy.

At the end of November, my husband, reindeer-loving son and I attended the Big Bad Voodoo Daddy Christmas concert. After opening with “Rockabilly Christmas,” lead singer Scotty Morris greeted the Gallo Center audience by saying,

“Thank you for doing whatever it was you had to do to get in the door to support live music.”

Wherever the adversity comes from, this is the potential of the moment, this is the chance we have to become more who we are meant to be and discover the unexpected.

We were all a little rusty getting back into it. But it felt good to be back.

Thank you for doing what you had to do to make it happen.

Previously published in the weekly column, “Here’s to the Good Life!” in the Hughson Chronicle & Denair Dispatch.

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