Culture From Your Couch During the Time of Coronavirus

A very comfortable-looking couch. (photo: Fastly and Wikipedia)

A very comfortable-looking couch. (photo: Fastliy and Wikipedia)

Because we all must hunker down to avoid spreading the coronavirus, the opportunities to feed
our cultural souls are necessarily limited for the foreseeable future. There are plenty of
resources you can find elsewhere in your home, like favorite books or old family photo albums.
And there is always the ubiquitous deck of cards with which you can play any variation of
solitaire. But cultural hunger is rarely satisfied if it’s not shared with friends or family. So here are
just a few suggestions that, while keeping a very safe distance, can help you connect in new
and different ways with those you love and enjoy.

Produce a Concert

Whether by Skype or email, set up an evening where each of several friends chooses his or her
own five favorite songs (new or “of all time”) and, in rotation, shares each for mutual listening
over the course of, say, 30 minutes. As one “producer” among your circle of music-loving
friends, you can comment on your choices, or you can agree to critique what’s been heard.
There’s nothing quite like being exposed to new music that isn’t just fed by popular tastes.

Co-Write a Short Story

Start off by sending a friend the first paragraph of a new work of fiction. Whether “It was a dark
and stormy night..” or “The pizza delivery boy was the sexiest man who ever rang my
doorbell..,” get the ball rolling, and challenge your friends to write the second paragraph, then,
the third, and, in turn, as many as you all will want to create a clever or inane piece of work. As
in stage Improv, you can’t edit what’s been written, and the best protocol is always to move the
story forward.

Create Your Family Tree

Yeah, this sounds like possibly something only old men after the age of 70 do. But if you have any
interest in your heritage, you likely have a lot of cousins and kin who are interested, too. And,
besides, like you, they are all sitting at home with nothing much better to do. Now might be the
perfect time—given the perfect reason—to call Aunt Florence or Uncle Max to learn what they
know of their past. Whether you actually draw up a tree, or find yourself subscribing to
ancestry.com, Aunt Florence and Uncle Max will love the call, and you’ll feel great for having
reached out.

Story by C. Prentiss Orr

Prentiss Orr is a former theatre manager, producer, and writer. He is currently writing a new book about events in Pittsburgh after the Revolutionary War.