Duke Performances

Livestream Series: Q&A, Daughter of Swords

May 26, 2020


Duke Performances is partnering with Duke Arts and WXDU on a livestream series hosted by DP on Facebook Live and Instagram Live. This Wednesday, May 27, we’re rounding out the series with Alexandra Sauser-Monnig’s solo project Daughter of Swords.

In advance of these performances, we ask participating artists to reflect on how the coronavirus crisis has impacted their work, and what they are finding reassuring through these uncertain times.

We encourage you to check Duke Performances’ blog to read previous Q&As with artists participating in our livestream series. We also invite you to explore or contribute to Duke Arts’ “Arts & Artists Are Essential” collection of voices, opportunities, and offerings, or you can subscribe to receive weekly updates. Artists within and around the Duke University community remind us of the full spectrum of our creative power and our resilience as we navigate this new environment.


We know artists are deeply impacted by COVID-19, both in their artistic career and in side gigs in other industries dependent on social interaction. Can you give us some insight into what has changed for you?

As a person who works at home when not on tour, there are structural ways this feels not too dissimilar to life before the pandemic, except that things that were perhaps just postponed at the front end have now drifted out of sight on the very distant horizon. That, and the existential angst that we all feel, are the main ways this feels different than life previously did. [There’s] that general sense of idling as spring surreally and beautifully explodes around the edges of our human tragedy.

Has your artistic practice been affected? For example, are you making any new work right now, or finding other ways to collaborate remotely?

I have been involved in a couple of remote collaborations or performances, but have not found myself making much new work. I’m clinging to learning the songs of others and practicing as a way to keep my brain and body involved, but thus far have been so bewildered by the rapidity of such a complete transformation of modern life that creating more newness is hard to wrap my head around.

We will publicize your livestream with the suggestion that viewers make a donation to an artist relief fund of your choice, and will always include two local Durham, NC, options. Is there a relief fund or other support response close to your creative and/or local community you would like to share with us? 

I’d love for the Durham Artist Relief Fund to be supported.

Do you have any words of hope, or artistic work you’ve found comfort in, that you’d like to share with our audience?

I always find comfort in meditation, and rooting down in presence. If anyone’s looking for some good meditation podcasts, Tara Brach always helps me slow down. I’ve also been leaning into wordless music like Joanna Brouk, Jon Hassell, Joe Westerlund, and the soundtrack to Fishing with John by John Lurie.

The artist relief funds established by North Star Church of the Arts and the Durham Arts Council, as well as any additional funds nominated by the artist performing, are not affiliated with Duke University. Thank you for supporting local artists!

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