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Thursday, 16 July 2020

The Corona Diaries: Craig Mather



These recent times have been some of the hardest challenges we've faced and as a community, it hit us pretty hard. However during these difficult times, here at Pocket Size Theatre, we wanted to spread a little positivity and share some peoples experiences because we are all in this together. Each day we'll be speaking to our friends in the industry to share their experiences with you all so take a read and see how people are getting through these hard times. 

Let's stick together, share the love and get through this as a community!

Craig Mather was most recently seen in Les Miserables: The All-Star Concert at the Gielgud Theatre. His other credits include Edward in Pieces of String (Mercury Theatre); Mole in The Wind in the Willows (London Palladium); Marius in Les Miserables (Queen's Theatre); Antony in Sweeney Todd (Harrington’s Pie Shop/West End); Stuart in Tonight's The Night (UK Tour); Jack in Jack and the Beanstalk (Clywd Theatr Cymru); Melchior in Spring Awakening (English Theatre Frankfurt); Simon in Concrete Jungle (The Other Palace) and A Celebration of Lionel Bart (Royal Festival Hall). 

On Monday 16th March 2020, The Society of London Theatre announced the closure of all Theatres in London. This followed suit with regional venues. Where were you when you found out and what was your initial reaction? 

I was at home with my little one and I think we had just been for our weekly swimming session at the local leisure centre. Little did we know it would be our last for a while! I couldn’t believe the news, I knew it was coming as Broadway had closed the week before. I suddenly thought of all my friends in this industry that this would really hit hard and obviously, as it's close to me, people with kids and families to pay for. 

Can you tell us anything productive you’ve been doing? 

Keeping fit has been a huge part of keeping sane during this time, been keeping on top of that. Also, I've been doing lots of writing for the first time in years, I've just not had the time to do it. I'm actually writing with Gus Gowland, the writer of Pieces of String. And we have found a great working relationship and something we both found quite exciting. We are doing a kind of concept album of original Pop songs around the subject of someone who suffers from mental health. I've found it very therapeutic. Watch this space! I've also ran a weekly singalong session on zoom with my wife Rosie Mather, which was in association with The Mercury Theatre Colchester online program. Which I found super fun and had great feedback from all. 
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The Corona Diaries: Pérola Congo


These recent times have been some of the hardest challenges we've faced and as a community, it hit us pretty hard. However during these difficult times, here at Pocket Size Theatre, we wanted to spread a little positivity and share some peoples experiences because we are all in this together. Each day we'll be speaking to our friends in the industry to share their experiences with you all so take a read and see how people are getting through these hard times.


Let's stick together, share the love and get through this as a community!

Pérola Congo was most recently seen as Therese in Our Lady of Kibeho at the Theatre Royal Stratford East. Her other credits include Squeak/Olivia in The Color Purple (Leicester Curve); Ikette in Tina (Aldwych Theatre); Ensemble in The Addams Family (UK Tour & Singapore); Isabella in Pinocchio (Stephen Joseph Theatre); Queequeg in Moby Dick (Union Theatre) and Bet in Oliver! (Grange Park Opera). 

On Monday 16th March 2020, The Society of London Theatre announced the closure of all Theatres in London. This followed suit with regional venues. Where were you when you found out and what was your initial reaction? 

I had just finished a workshop a few days prior and was about to begin rehearsals for a new project in two weeks. Naïvely, I'd hoped that the project I was about to start wouldn't fall through as it was set to open in May, however it is now postponed until next year. I buried my head in my pillow and shed a few tears that day. I was so absolutely gutted for all my friends who were in rehearsals, who had just opened and who had had their projects cancelled - it was heartbreaking.

Can you tell us anything productive you’ve been doing? 

I've been prioritising starting off my day right with meditation and prayer (my current streak on Headspace is 104 days!) I've also been working on inversions and hand balances in my yoga practice. Meditation, prayer, and yoga have been integral ways that I've been able to manage my stress and anxiety during this strange and intense time. It's been so nice to actually have time to really pray and sit with gratitude and silence.
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Wednesday, 15 July 2020

The Corona Diaries: Jessica-Elizabeth Nelson



These recent times have been some of the hardest challenges we've faced and as a community, it hit us pretty hard. However during these difficult times, here at Pocket Size Theatre, we wanted to spread a little positivity and share some peoples experiences because we are all in this together. Each day we'll be speaking to our friends in the industry to share their experiences with you all so take a read and see how people are getting through these hard times.

Let's stick together, share the love and get through this as a community!

Jessica-Elizabeth Nelson is currently a Swing and cover Pearl, Dinah, Carrie & Coco in Starlight Express in Bochum, Germany. Her other credits include Alternate Millie & Ensemble in Thoroughly Modern Millie (UK Tour); Billie Bendix in Nice Work if You Can Get It (Upstairs at the Gatehouse) and Millie in Thoroughly Modern Millie (Canada). 

On Monday 16th March 2020, The Society of London Theatre announced the closure of all Theatres in London. This followed suit with regional venues. Where were you when you found out and what was your initial reaction? 

I had just returned from performing in Starlight Express in Germany, as we had to close early due to coronavirus getting worse. When lockdown began and I heard that The Society of London Theatre was to close all London Theatres and at first I thought it was to keep us all safe. But it wasn't until recent months that I realised the true loss for our Theatres and business and the struggle we have yet to face. But if I know anything, showbiz always shines through, and though we have one hell of a fight, we will get through it together. 

Can you tell us anything productive you’ve been doing?

Since being home, I have used this time to be with my family and fiancé that I would not usually be able to appreciate whilst working and travelling. Recently I have been planning my up-coming wedding for 2021 and buying my first house with my partner, Edward. Which has been a true blessing in disguise. I have also had to figure out different ways to stay fit and healthy during the lockdown. I regularly burst into song whilst running or skating to keep my pipes happy in which the sheep in the fields find very odd. But for now, I am keeping a healthy mindset and seeing a positive outlook on our future as performers. For whilst even when we hit rock bottom, the only way to go is UP!
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The Corona Diaries: Ashley Zhangazha



These recent times have been some of the hardest challenges we've faced and as a community, it hit us pretty hard. However during these difficult times, here at Pocket Size Theatre, we wanted to spread a little positivity and share some peoples experiences because we are all in this together. Each day we'll be speaking to our friends in the industry to share their experiences with you all so take a read and see how people are getting through these hard times.

Let's stick together, share the love and get through this as a community!

Ashley Zhangazha was most recently seen playing Ike Turner in the West End production of Tina: The Tina Turner Musical. His other credits include Biff in Death of a Salesman, Laertes in Hamlet, Sky Masterson in Guys and Dolls (Royal Exchange); the title role in Pericles, Legendre in Danton's Death (National Theatre); Harcourt in The Country Wife (Chichester Festival Theatre); Lars Kosh in Terror (Lyric Hammersmith); Richard in The Lottery of Love (Orange Tree); Jamie in Human Animals, Kunle in Belong, Truth and Reconciliation (Royal Court); Walter Lee Younger in A Raisin in the Sun, Ross in Macbeth (Sheffield Crucible); Arthur in Ah Wilderness (Young Vic); Cory in Fences (Theatre Royal Bath, Duchess Theatre); Aumerle in Richard II, King Lear (Domar Warehouse); Oliver (London Palladium) and Hey Mr Producer (Lyceum Theatre). 

On Monday 16th March 2020, The Society of London Theatre announced the closure of all Theatres in London. This followed suit with regional venues. Where were you when you found out and what was your initial reaction? 

Two days before, on the 14th March, I finished my run in Tina: The Tina Turner Musical and on the evening of the 16th I was due to go to the theatre to see my girlfriend in a play. I feared the closure was coming as Broadway had recently shut down and there was quite a bit of speculation that similar would follow here but it was still surreal when the reality of the situation struck. It was absolutely necessary for it to happen but I was sad and disappointed for all those artists in our industry whose livelihoods were taken from them in an instant.

Can you tell us anything productive you’ve been doing? 

The pace of normal life is so often relentless, particularly in this industry, so I’ve tried to embrace this period of pause as best I can while also keeping active when it’s felt right to do so. I’ve been reading a lot, running, exercising, and pushing for change.
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Tuesday, 14 July 2020

The Corona Diaries: Jacqui Sanchez



These recent times have been some of the hardest challenges we've faced and as a community, it hit us pretty hard. However during these difficult times, here at Pocket Size Theatre, we wanted to spread a little positivity and share some peoples experiences because we are all in this together. Each day we'll be speaking to our friends in the industry to share their experiences with you all so take a read and see how people are getting through these hard times.  

Let's stick together, share the love and get through this as a community!

Jacqui Sanchez was most recently seen as Cynthia in the UK touring production of Priscilla Queen of the Desert. Her other credits include The King and I (London Palladium/UK and Ireland Tour), Babe the Sheep Pig (Polka Children’s Theatre and UK Tour), 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Catford Broadway Studio Theatre), Shrek The Musical (Original London Cast, Theatre Royal Drury Lane and UK Tour), Avenue Q (Noël Coward, Wyndhams and Seoul, South Korea), Miss Saigon (UK tour and Tam tour), Grease (Scandinavian tour), Aladdin (Mayflower, Southampton and Hackney Empire), and Hair (English Theatre, Frankfurt).

On Monday 16th March 2020, The Society of London Theatre announced the closure of all Theatres in London. This followed suit with regional venues. Where were you when you found out and what was your initial reaction? 

We had just finished our new venue tech rehearsal for the Priscilla tour in Woking and were about to open that evening which is always a bit of a stressful day for everyone to get everything done in time. Personally, I was really looking forward to being back near home for the week and having friends coming to see the show. We had obviously heard about theatres shutting down across the world over the week previous and were already quietly nervous as we were supposed to be heading out on a European tour after we had finished the UK and Ireland leg. Everyone was so nervous at one point I suggested we have a 'Gray's Anatomy'-style 'dance it out' in the dressing room corridor (like Meredith and Cristina do in the early series), much to the bemusement (and probably the annoyance) of the in-house and touring tech staff. I think it did the trick though, it seemed to cheer up everyone who wanted to take part (including myself) and get rid of some of the nervous energy. At the quarter we were then called to the stage and told that we were to stop performances with immediate effect until further notice. I remember looking around at the circle we formed, at all the people who had worked so hard to get the show in and up on time and just feeling a bit numb - like the rug had been pulled out from under us but still having the hope that we would be back sooner rather than later.

Can you tell us anything productive you’ve been doing? 

Early on I took part in a socially distant video dance piece by Chris Whittaker for an online concert called All the Web's a Stage in aid of Theatre Together (@TheatreTogether on twitter and @theatre.together on Instagram) - it was so lovely to dance his choreography and feel these old bones breathe! Also, I've been doing Yoga with my best friend almost every day and have just introduced her to Pilates. She, in turn, has introduced me to Couch to 5k - got to say I was never much of a running fan, but now I find I crave it. 
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