The pandemic brought about unexpected challenges -- wearing masks in public, staying six feet apart from everyone, meeting via Zoom and being forced to spend week after week at home with your partner.

Jen Maren and her husband, Peter Simmons, are both actors and had numerous jobs and projects in the works before Minnesota shut down.

“We were happily, blissfully going along and then the pandemic hit and cut our industry to its knees,” Maren explained.

When everything closed. Maren and Simmons began spending much more time together and from this period of social distancing and quarantining the show “My Funny Quarantine” was born.

Jen Maren and Peter Simmons created "Theatre Unmasqued," which put on the show "My Funny Quarantine." Photo provided by Maren.
Jen Maren and Peter Simmons created "Theatre Unmasqued," which put on the show "My Funny Quarantine." Photo provided by Maren.

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Maren was inspired to create a show that offered a humorous take on the reality that countless couples suddenly found themselves in. Simmons took Maren’s idea and together they wrote a show.

“Ultimately, he came up with the idea of this couple stuck in quarantine and all of the challenges we all face when you have to spend hour after hour with a person,” Maren explained.

The 40-45 minute performance includes songs, comedy, pantomimes and a sword fight.

To keep themselves and their audiences safe, Maren and Simmons perform the show outdoors. They have used streets, back yards, decks and docks as stages. On Saturday, Oct. 3, the duo brought "My Funny Quarantine" to the Hobgoblin outdoor stage.

Maren said she is always excited to return to Red Wing. It is her hometown and, as she explained, she had an ancestor living in the town since 1890. Her great-great-grandfather’s name can be found on a step on Barn Bluff/He Mni Can.

“I love my hometown, it’s beautiful,” Maren stressed.

While Maren and Simmons were writing "My Funny Quarantine," George Floyd died while in the custody of Minneapolis police. The artists paused their work, pondering the best way to move forward. Ultimately, Simmons and Maren decided to finish and perform the show but donate a portion of the proceeds from the shows to Black Lives Matter and the Equal Justice Initiative.

Even during a challenging time, Maren sees a place and a need for comedy. She stated, “I’m a big believer that we need to have a break in which to just give our brains a chance to reset so that we can come back and try to continue fighting for these reforms.”

For more information about Maren and Theatre Unmasqued, visit www.jenmaren.com