"We're not alone": Ken on his time in social isolation


What's one word you would use to describe the last few months of social isolation?

Ken Hildebrandt


I think the word I would choose is 'unsettling'. I haven't had a haircut in months. That's very unsettling for me, haha. Seriously, though...It may come as a surprise to some but I'm an introvert so I don't mind being at home.

Trying to stay healthy, attempting to do my part to help keep others healthy, trying to work through the loss of  having to postpone productions for the time being, figuring out a plan for G7 that will carry us through  the next while, dealing with personal loss, missing being able to see movies or live theatre or socialize with my wide circle of friends, feeling the pressure of needing to be productive and doing 'useful' things, yet finding myself unmotivated, if not ambivalent, as I subconsciously work through my feelings about the losses I'm feeling, has left me feeling quite unsettled.

Like so many, the ground has suddenly shifted beneath my feet and I'm off-balance. I'm moving forward through all of this, recognizing we're in unfamiliar territory and giving myself freedom to process thoughts and feelings as they happen and on no particular timeline, but it's all such new territory.

Through it all, I have this sense of odd peace, a feeling of 'I'll be ok', but I also feel a sense of fear and anxiety over how I'll get to 'ok'. Yes, quite unsettling.  


Have you found or rediscovered any hobbies? (No judgement: hobbies can include reading a good book and watching some good TV shows)


I suddenly had a whole lot more time to do some of the home things I like to do such as reading and generally relaxing.

I have been watching a number of TV series and some movies, but I've kind of let exercise slip a little. I'm not a cook, but I've now made meatloaf for the first time in my life (don't judge!) and it actually turned out alright.

When I get my motivation up and get tired of my other, more usual dishes, I'll make it again! 


What's one thing that has pleasantly surprised you about this period?


One of the big things I've noticed is how important in-person social interaction with other people is. After limiting my physical interactions, just talking with my neighbours from the appropriate distance on our respective patios has been uplifting for me.

I've stayed in touch with people over the phone or via video hangout but it's just not the same as being physically present with someone. I've discovered there's still lots to be thankful for, that there are good things in the midst of the chaos.

I learned how to do some basic video editing and I've noticed I can throw an alarming number of socks into the laundry during a given week.

What else? Oh, I've discovered that I can still style my hair sort of the way I want, despite not having had a haircut in quite some time. Sometimes, it's the little discoveries that get you through.


What or who are you drawing on as sources of inspiration to hope or keep going right now?


I mentioned this before but I feel an underlying sense of peace that keeps me from going to truly dark places. This is a globally shared experience and there's a strange, small comfort in that. We're not alone. Connecting with friends and family, even if not in person, has helped. It's hard to see and feel it most days, but I want to trust that God can and is working through all of this. 


We have to ask one question about theatre! Do you have any bucket list shows that you would love to be a part of when this is all over?


The fact that live theatre will return at some point will be good enough for me! Maybe it's short-term thinking, but right now, I'm looking forward to seeing the remaining shows from this past season finally get their time on stage. I'm looking forward to producing the other shows we have lined up for our 30th anniversary season once we get the green light to get back to business.

Funny thing...I feel like generally speaking, the shows we produce on our stage are the ones I most want to do. I have to really believe in them before I green-light them so I feel confident we're doing our bucket-list shows. There are other shows I'd like to do, of course, but they may have to wait for a different venue and a different time in my life. 


Finally, what are some good things that you see coming out of this crisis for our community? 


I think we'll discover what's truly important to us. I think we'll discover that technology doesn't replace physical human interaction and relationships. I think we'll appreciate the little things more.

As a theatre producer, my hope is that we'll re-discover how important shared experiences are to the well-being of our society. I look forward to the day we can 'gather around the fire' again and share stories that enlighten, challenge and inspire.


Learn more about G7's COVID-19 response here.