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Dear GOP: Did you just call me lazy?

Diane R. Feldman ( seated on the left/dark grey sweatshirt) gives notes after a rehearsal
Diane R. Feldman ( seated on the left/dark grey sweatshirt) gives notes after a rehearsal
Diane R. Feldman ( seated on the left/dark grey sweatshirt) gives notes after a rehearsal (photo: Jim Frohna)

August 4, 2020

Dear GOP who decided those of us who are unemployed will no longer receive an extra $600 a week for unemployment …

Dear GOP who say continuing to provide that extra $600 is “disincentive to work…” (1)

Dear GOP who accuses those who are unemployed of being, “lazy, and undeserving of the HEROES Act unemployment help…” (2)

I’ve got news for you: since Covid unleashed its chaos, I am unemployed for the first time since the age of 14, and I have never had MORE incentive to work, or been so UNLAZY… in my life.

(And, those who actually know me personally are familiar with the fact my work ethic, drive and industriousness were already “off the charts” pre-pandemic.)

Let me introduce myself. My EMployment journey began when I brought a dream to fruition by creating and teaching various drama and musical theatre courses at a recreation center in my west Los Angeles neighborhood…at the age of 14. A few years later, that work evolved, and the recreation center gave me an autonomous green light to design and implement the summer drama camp I proposed: it was the very first of its kind on the west side, and Cheviot Hills Drama Camp remains in operation today — more than 30 years later. Yes, at the age of 18, I was already responsible for an enormous multi-faceted program which entailed: overseeing a staff; ensuring large groups of young people with varying skill sets and an array of social/emotional temperaments were valued, embraced, included, inclusive, kind and successful; establishing programming that guaranteed parents would feel comfortable and confident about leaving their young artists in my hands — all while teaching theatre and mounting an entire musical process and production.

(GOP: Did any of you do that by the age of 18? Could any of you do that now?)

Fast forward a few years, I recognized the need and niche for the unique theatrical work I was doing, so at the age of 21, (when many of you were likely … well, you can fill in your own blanks), I founded an educational musical theatre company, (Children’s Civic Light Opera Theatre Company — affectionately known as, CCLO), hired extraordinary artists and educators, and spent 30 successful and joyful years directing, musical directing, collaborating, training, educating and inspiring hundreds of young people, who are currently following their dreams and have found the conviction to walk confidently, enthusiastically and productively through life. From lawyers, to doctors, to scientists, to production designers and technicians, to musicians, actors, therapists, inventors, politicians, and the list extends — they are all caring and compassionate contributors to this world.

(GOP: Have any of you ever inspired confidence and enthusiasm, or exercised compassion for the world?)

PS — my company has remained a model for the establishment of several theatre programs throughout the Los Angeles area and beyond. What have you remained a model for, GOP? Corruption, destruction, prejudice, bigotry, permitting White Supremacy, economic crisis, the NRA, killing thousands of people due to your pathetic (non)-response to the pandemic, political gain, putting wealth and power in the pockets of a fraudulent few? And, I’m sure THAT list extends…

In addition to my company, I created several theatre programs in Los Angeles and New York over the years which remain in operation today; I have won awards for those programs, and I continue to celebrate my alumni as they receive awards of their own.

I have toured the country bringing characters to life and introducing theatre to young audiences.

I have worked with people of every socioeconomic background, and every learning style and stamina.

I have changed lives; I have saved lives.

I have a Master’s Degree from NYU, and abundant experience in my field.

However, the pandemonium this pandemic has welcomed brought my income, my livelihood, and my ability to bolster and support young people through the art and craft of theatre, to a screeching halt. Do you have any idea what I have lost as a result? Do you have any idea what SO many people have lost as a result?! And, that list includes loved ones for some.

Dear GOP:

Have any of you lost a six-figure income?

Have any of you been forced to move out of your home because you can no longer afford to pay the rent?

Are any of you single parents sending your child off to college?

Are any of you unexpectedly having to reinvent yourself at age 52 after having a thriving and consistent career?

Dear GOP who have “complained that the $600 weekly payment has created a situation where some Americans are paid more to stay home than to return to their jobs…:” (3)

While you and your pal, Trump, enjoy enormous paychecks, large houses, golf games, lavish parties, job security, (oh, and abusing tax-payer dollars), we unemployed are hard at work trying to navigate and survive the circumstances WE DID NOT INVITE! An extra $600 of unemployment a week may not seem like much to you, but it makes a tremendous difference for those of us who are newly struggling. It is the difference between panic and a small sigh of relief; turmoil and enough calm to find moments of clarity.

And, GOP, looking for a full-time job requires clarity.

Dear GOP, who decided to, “slash supplemental benefits on the theory that Americans will happily pocket a payoff to sit at home on their couches,” (4) how DARE you make assumptions about me…or about any of us.

Guess what? Those jobs you want us to get off our couches and find are few and far between right now thanks to your (way)-less-than-stellar handling of CoronaVirus. GOP: I do not even have time to sit on my couch! I’m too busy trying to figure out how I’m going to earn a living again. My livelihood requires me to be in the same space with people. It requires singing, dancing, playing instruments, building, touching things, speaking at various volumes and intensities, working in close proximity to others, and connecting physically. People like you commonly poke fun at my field — (which, just to clarify, is far from being a frill or a talent contest, and is actually one of the most powerful, multifarious, effective and long-established methods we have for imparting academic, artistic, and personal knowledge and wisdom) — and now, during this time of life, it is one of the most dangerous fields there is. Whoever thought we would witness a worldwide shut down of Theatre?! It is mind-boggling that Broadway is actually closed: who knows how long the ghost lights will glow on.

Oh, hey, GOP: guess what else? Looking for a full-time job … IS a full-time job. The amount of hours it takes to adapt cover letters and CVs, especially when you have to peruse and pursue positions outside of your usual field, is immense. Umm — GOP — did any of you actually apply for your jobs? Or were they just handed to you on a silver platter — regardless of whether or not you were qualified for the position? (Gosh, so many of your names come to mind…)

GOP: It is acceptable for YOU to be “lazy” about work and “lazy” about taking proper care of this country. It is acceptable for YOU to “pocket payoffs” WAY grander than $2400 a month. It is acceptable for YOU to progress in your careers with little, and sometimes, no, effort. And, there are no repercussions for your actions. Yet, you feel it necessary to punish “We, The People” for this unforeseen, unsought-after, unanticipated unemployment?!

Please DO NOT EVER accuse me of being lazy. I do not deserve that denunciation — and neither do any of the people who have lost their jobs as a result of this pandemic.

Please stop elevating yourselves, removing yourselves, and dismissing hard-working, driven, educated, and dedicated people like me. Instead, imagine for a moment, what you would want if YOU were wading through the waves of unemployment. Had you and your pal, Trump, handled this circumstance properly from its onset … even before its onset … We, The People, might not be drowning in depression, despondency, despair - and debt.

Dear GOP: You contributed to the crisis, now it’s time to work in concert with Congress, and contribute some comfort, some care…and some cash…to the community.

(PPS — in case you’re wondering, GOP…though I know that’s not likely…I am currently far away from my couch, un-lazily building a brand new business and starting a Foundation with more incentive and drive than I have ever had. I suppose, in a convoluted way, I have you to thank for that.)

Best,

Diane

Image for post
Image for post
INTO THE WOODS (2012) Children’s Civic Light Opera Theatre Company — Summer Theatre Conservatory

(1) CNBC: Republicans call the $600 unemployment boost a disincentive to work. Many experts disagree. By Greg Lacurci

(2) Theatrical Wardrobe Union: GOP says workers are lazy, don’t deserve HEROES Act unemployment help. By Dan Brink.

(3) (4) Washington Post: A stingy new GOP plan for unemployment benefits reflects Trump’s twisted vision. By Greg Sargent.

Written by

Diane is a Los Angeles-based director, musical director, theatre educator, vocal/acting/audition coach, and accompanist. dianefeldmantheatre.com

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