A collection of healthcare professionals’ stories working through the COVID-19 pandemic
ArtsWest’s production of An Endless Shift is a documentary theatre project devised by Gloria Alcalá and Alma Davenport and is performed by Gloria Alcalá. Located at ArtsWest Theatre, An Endless Shift shares the stories of five healthcare professionals through the reenactment of their responses to interview questions. In this unique production, Gloria Alcalá single-handedly reenacts each healthcare professional’s responses sharing each person’s experience through their entry into healthcare and the nightmare that they were faced with, COVID-19.
An Endless Shift captures the verbatim accounts of five different healthcare professionals. We are introduced the each participant through the audio of their voices during their interviews. With brief clips of their voices, Gloria Alcalá uses their skills to showcase the visuals and emotion behind each participants’ responses. The production shared their experiences coming into the healthcare industry, their initial desires for pursuing their career as well as shared their reactions to the events leading up to the pandemic, and how they had to maneuver through the work place during the outbreaks. Most importantly, the production demonstrated the emotional toll and changes healthcare professionals endured.
The script of the production was an accumulation of Alcalá’s witty comments and the healthcare professional’s authentic responses. As this is a documentary theatre project, I understand that the content of each person’s stories could not be as rich as opposed to if it were focused on a single person’s experiences. However, I do wish we got more depth into certain stories that were briefly mentioned. The style of the script was written in the style of the interview, showing a vast amount of different perspectives and personalities, allowing for the audience to visually see the rollercoaster of emotions from each person’s encounters with patients, families, and the world during this time.
The stage of the production is intimate, suitable for sharing vulnerable stories like the ones of An Endless Shift. With dim, spotlight-focused lighting, the space and audience is solely focused on the actor’s narration of the interviews. There is a minimal set, however I found the movement of the set in the production to be distracting. Gloria Alcalá takes the stage on their own to share the experiences of five individuals, displaying clear voice quality and stage presence. Their performance was excellent while capturing all the emotions and humor of each person. Although they demonstrated their great skill, the transitions between characters became confusing at times, as I would not know who’s monologue was being reenacted at moments. The stories were powerful, but I feel it would have been more impactful with a range of actors reenacting the interviewees.
The overall production was relatable, honest, and eye-opening. ArtsWest took a common experience that everyone has suffered the last few years and brought it all into perspective. Sharing the stories of the five healthcare professionals showcases how ugly the pandemic really got. I enjoyed it, and would recommend for anyone to see it, as it discusses a lot of the issues we all witnessed during the pandemic. There is some explicit language, but in general, it is appropriate for most ages.
An Endless Shift devised by Gloria Alcalá and Alma Davenport. ArtsWest Theatre Company, ArtsWest Theatre, 4711 California Ave SW, Seattle, WA 98116. Thurs Jan 26 7:30 til Sun Feb 19.
Tickets and Info: <a href="http://<a href="https://www.artswest.org/events/an-endless-shift/“>https://www.artswest.org/events/an-endless-shift/
Street parking. Multiple parking lots around the corner of the block. Take the Lightrail to University St and the C-Line from University St Station.