Our greater objective was to get NYU to sign the Open Covid Pledge. We identified a target at NYU and thought including something creative in an email to her would make it more likely for her to engage with the email and respond to us.
Improv conversations with COVID-19. In particular: a concerned person wanted COVID-19 to go away, so she talked to someone at a university that was doing COVID-19 research, asking them to open up their licensing so that the pandemic would end sooner. The university rep called their big pharma contact and both were skeptical. But then the Plague Doctor appeared and convinced everyone to agree to the Open Covid Pledge.
It worked! We included an image from our action in our email to our target and she wrote back right away saying she would be happy to meet with us.
We knew from research that our target had a background in more creative ways of achieving major health aims.
Original files can be provided for exhibition
Reflections from Rachel Karp
What would be your next steps, building on this idea, if you had a million dollars and all the time and skills in the world?
We were most taken with the image of talking to COVID-19 and think this could build into a social media campaign of people talking to COVID about how universities/pharmaceutical corporations/health organizations/government entities can make COVID go away–in a way that is safe, equitable, and accessible to all.
If someone else were going to make/use/do something like this, what advice would you give them?
Things we found that were useful: the person playing COVID-19 changing their profile picture to COVID-19 and turning their camera off, Zoom backgrounds for as many other participants as possible, simple costumes, having an overall outline of what we would say, and trying to move through that outline pretty quickly (because otherwise the improv can get really bogged down). We wanted to make something short–maybe 60 seconds–but we never got it below about 3 minutes. Also, we learned after the fact that using the Zoom recording function doesn’t work because it doesn’t capture the profile image of someone with their camera off, so record through e.g. QuickTime or something that can capture a screen to make sure you get the key image of COVID-19 talking!