Monday, 30 March 2020

The Corona Diaries: George Ure


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! 

George Ure most recently finished his third run as Boq in Wicked, having previously been in the West End production and on the original UK & Ireland tour. Other credits include Rusty’ in Starlight Express for Andrew Lloyd-Webber (The Other Palace); ‘Zaki’ in Big Fish (The Other Palace); ‘Tobias Ragg’ in Sweeney Todd (Welsh National Opera, West Yorkshire Playhouse and La Monnaie De Munt); ‘Tom’ in Millennium (Soho Theatre); the title role in Peter Pan (Milton Keynes Theatre) and Hair (European tour)

On Monday 17th 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? 

If I remember rightly I was wading through a supermarket trying to get a few bits and bobs (in sensible amounts I should add!) when theatre by theatre started to close. Being in numerous social groups on different mediums, my phone was buzzing off the hook. My initial reaction was bewilderment as I know just what it takes to make such a decision. But also I hugely respected the various producers and theatre owners for making such a difficult decision to not only protect their own people, but the public at large. 

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

What I did was take the time to actually stop, reflect, enjoy my own company and be as productive as possible within the confines of the current situation. My house has never been cleaner and there’s only so much laundry one person can do, but a clear space is a clear mind, right?! Amazingly the team at The Urdang Academy (where I am a Musical Theatre teacher) managed to get a whole timetable of classes online, so I have been able to connect with the students which has been a joy. I’ve been in touch with fellow creatives regarding projects and initiatives which has been really heartwarming. In terms of new skills - Tesco has the slickest shelves in town as I started with them yesterday due to the demand for temporary workers. I’m not a medical professional and I don’t drive, but I can make myself useful and contribute in my own way. Every little helps as the saying goes.

Whenever you log onto social media there is so much negativity circulating. How have you been trying to keep a positive mental attitude during these times? 

I think we all have a choice. Either ignore or engage. I choose to ignore. What we all need right now in this time of GLOBAL unrest is to be kind and thoughtful to our neighbours. We don’t need to be spreading any more horror than we are already subjected to, and we should be using this time to pull each other up rather than knock each other down. Live and let live, and remember to put yourself in someone else’s shoes before you make a judgment. I’ve been doing my daily ten minutes of meditation which I’ve found hugely useful. When I’m in front of the telly it’s only upbeat and humorous things I want to watch, and with my one allocation of exercise, I’ve been taking an hour-long walk in the beautiful area where I live whilst avoiding others and sticking to the social distancing advice. 

With the Arts temporarily shut down, how would you advise people to continue to support the Arts industries? 

That’s a big question and one that I think everyone will have very different answers for. In my opinion, we need to keep the work happening from where we are. Sing, dance, read, write, bake, whatever the skill. Do it. Get it out there and use your gifts and talents to raise people’s spirits. Remember that this WILL pass and so we all need to be ready to get back to work when the time comes. That means everyone should continue honing their skills and be as proactive as possible using the many online platforms that have appeared over the last week or so. It costs nothing to stick a video on your Instagram and make someone’s day. It’s brought me great joy to see how inventive people are being, and I think things are going to be different in a great way when this is all done. 

Have you discovered anything that you’d like to recommend to our viewers? 

Like I mentioned earlier, there is a love guided mediation via @theurdang on Instagram a few days a week, led by the wonderful Brenda Shankey. Follow all of the showbiz platforms you can on social media to keep up to date with concerts to your living room or classes to join in with. There’s a mountain of material out there for you all to make the most of. I love my Audible app and I’ve been listening to The Color Purple novel this week. One of the best movies and musicals I have ever seen, and it’s now turning in to one of my favourite books - especially as it is narrated by the author. And finally, like the next million people, I got myself a Disney+ subscription and can’t wait to work through all my favourites! 

In these times of Social Distancing and isolation, how have you been trying to connect with Friends and Family? Any fun quizzes or games?! 

My dear friend Jane McMurtrie did the best Movie Quiz via WhatsApp the other day. We all howled are how full out it was and it was such a great laugh. My colleagues and I have a little “after work drink” a few times a week on Zoom and it sounds like I’m missing out on the Houseparty action. FaceTime and Zoom have been a daily source of comfort as we are all reaching out to each other where we can, and I’ve been able to check in with family in Scotland and friends all over the world which has been wonderful. People are really taking time for each other which may be one of the upsides to this testing period. That shouldn’t change overnight when things gradually shift back to “normal”. 

And finally, looking to the future, what are you most looking forward to when all of this is over?

The first thing I am going to do is HUG everyone I know. Dead tight. The one thing I miss is genuine human interaction with the people I love, and I will never take for granted the freedoms we enjoy daily, or the simplest act like going for a coffee or a meal with loved ones. This has hopefully allowed us all to go a little deeper into how we perceive the world and each other, and I hope that once we all come through this that the world has become a little kinder. That would make it worth it for me. In the meantime I am sending huge love to all of you out there at this testing time. Remember it’s not forever, it will pass, and we all need to stick together as a worldwide community to kick it. 

If anyone has any more questions please feel free to drop me a DM @george_ure. Stay strong. Keep smiling. Be safe. 

We'd like to thank George and all the other performers who have given up their time to contribute to this feature. 

For more information please visit GOV.UK and NHS.co.uk

Other useful links for anyone needing further help: 

Acting For Others - Charity that provides financial & emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need. 
Help Musicians - An independent Charity that helps all forms of Musicians through times of need. 
Industry Minds - Mental Health Support for the creative arts. 
Theatre Helpline - a free, independent and confidential phone and email service that provides support to people working in the theatre industry.
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