If All The World’s A Stage, Then I Want My Money Back

I am very old school. I actually own a huge desk calendar, the type where each date is a 2-inch square. I typically fill up every speck of this space with all my meetings, appointments, and social activities. Not this year. According to my calendar, you would think I was either a big boring blob or having a torrid love affair with someone I affectionately named “Zoom.”

So far this year has not been one of my favorites. My calendar taunts me with all the conferences and celebrations crossed out in bold red pen. One of the most painful cancellations I experienced was a much-anticipated girls’ trip to Chicago to see the musical “Dear Evan Hansen.”

Ever since I was a child, I loved live theater. My parents introduced me to stage productions at a very young age. Imagine their shock when, as a little girl, I danced around the house singing about “tits and ass” after seeing “A Chorus Line.” Shocking at the time, but a very hilarious memory to my folks now.

According to Greek theater, there are three types of plays: satyrs, comedies, and tragedies. Satyrs are short comedic plays performed between the acts of a tragedy to serve as brief comic relief for the audience. Comedies, which are not always deemed funny, have a happy ending, and are based upon an average person’s life. Then there are tragedies, which deal with serious issues such as love and loss and typically focus on a tragic hero who is good but makes a foolish mistake.

While I prefer a quick-witted satyr or a beloved comedy, I have to compare 2020 to a theatrical tragedy, where all of us have played a part in one way or another. This year definitely has been filled with losses—both physical and mental. Our world has shifted to accommodate the pandemic, but just like many other tragedies we have experienced in our history, we will overcome. Thank goodness for all the amazing nonprofits that have brightened our world then and now.

The Role of Resiliency

September 11, 2001, was an undefinable tragedy branded as the single deadliest terrorist attack in history. It also was deemed the deadliest day ever for US firefighters because the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) fatalities accounted for more than one-third of the approximately 1,000 emergency personnel deaths. And while 2,977 individuals were killed at the World Trade Center, the nation rallied.

The FDNY Foundation (, while not solely a 9/11 charity, directly supports the men and women of the FDNY. Since 9/11, an additional 200 men and women have lost their lives from illnesses related to their work in the rescue andrecovery efforts during and following the terrorist attack. The foundation continues to serve as a lifeline for this extended firefighting family.

The Act of Overcoming

To date, more Americans have died from the coronavirus than did in any battle throughout our many major military conflicts. As the death toll continues to rise, those who have fought for our country need more support than ever. The virus impacts people of all demographics, but for military veterans it gets personal: This high-risk population fights financial instability along with the loss of purpose—two of the leading factors of suicide impacting veterans with barriers to employment.

The Warrior Alliance ( explores the root cause of military veteran suicides and applies best practices for preventive action. The organization helps warriors achieve fulfilling civilian lives with both confidence and competence.

A Chorus of Community

The world’s largest gathering of Holocaust survivors and their descendants—deemed Liberation 75—was scheduled for the beginning of last June in Toronto. Due to the coronavirus, the international gathering for more than 10,000 people, including students and educators, was postponed until 2021. There are approximately 400,000 Holocaust survivors worldwide, with about 85,000 in the US. Most survivors are in their 80s and 90s, which likely means less will be able to join together at the next function.

The Conference on Jewish

Material Claims Against Germany ( created a Holocaust survivor emergency assistance fund to help address worldwide the needs of this community worldwide during the pandemic. The $4.3 million in initial funding provides life-saving services to 120,000 Holocaust survivors.

Bringing Down the House

The unemployment rate among Americans during COVID-19—Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) findings range from 13% to 20% depending on the group’s demographics—has surpassed numbers from the Great Recession

I will have to satisfy my love for theater with Play-Per-View, live-streamed original content, and my absolute favorite “Hamilton” on Disney+. They do not compare to live performances but, for now, this is as good as it is going to get.

in the late 2000s. Many have been furloughed, and eventually permanently laid off. Some industries will take years to rebound from the effects of the pandemic, including airlines, restaurants, and retail. Another sector impacted by the current climate is live theater, which has always been deemed a fantastical escape of entertainment for theater-loving folks. Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS ( is one of the leading fundraising organizations in the theater and entertainment industry. The group launched a COVID-19 Emergency Assistance Fund to help those onstage and behind the scenes workers get health care, emergency financial assistance, and counseling during the pandemic.

In the Limelight

The following is a list of heroic organizations and individuals making a difference during this unreal time:

Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project, along with CARE and the Entertainment Industry Foundation, launched Together for Her ( to support women and girls against domestic violence in the US and in Theron’s home country of South Africa. These organizations committed $1 million to COVID-19 relief efforts with $500,000 going to domestic violence shelters and community-based programs.

The Center for Disaster Philanthropy ( created its COVID-19 Response Fund to support various communities vulnerable to the physical health, mental health, and economic impacts of the pandemic.

Prevent Child Abuse America ( is the nation’s oldest nonprofit organization dedicated to the primary prevention of child abuse and neglect. Donations ensure that children and families continue to receive the resources and support they need during this stressful time.

Two philanthropies—The Rachael Ray Foundation ( and The Yum-o! Organization—established by celebrity cook and author Rachael Ray collectively are donating $4 million for COVID-19 relief. This initiative helps fund critically needed food programs and support services for families and their pets.

Curtain Call

I look forward to the day when this pandemic is a distant memory—where phrases like “antibody testing,” “new normal,” “social distancing” and “sheltering in place” no longer easily roll off our tongues. In the meantime, I will have to satisfy my love for theater with Play- Per-View, live-streamed original content, and my absolute favorite “Hamilton” on Disney+. They do not compare to live performances, but for now, it is as good as it is going to get.

Anyone care to share their top picks for COVID-friendly theater viewing? I think my husband is getting sick of hearing my rendition of “The Room Where It Happened.”


Rochelle Brandvein
Rochelle Brandvein
Rochelle is the owner of Brandvein-Aaranson Public Relations, a 30-year-old PR agency that shifted to solely handling nonprofits and companies with a philanthropic arm or foundation. She is a contributing writer for the bi-monthly publication Lead Up for Women, where her “A Pivotal Space” column focuses on nonprofits and their amazing work. Rochelle loves her family, her business, and—most definitely—a good piece of chocolate.

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