Sunday, 19 April 2020

The Corona Diaries: Abigail Dever


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!

*Some information mentioned in this article may be out of date due to the progress of the current situation. Please keep that in mind when reading* 

Abigail Dever was most recently seen in the international touring production of CATS. Her other credits include Dinah and Pearl in Starlight Express (Bochum, Germany); Tinkerbell in Peter Pan (Royal and Derngate, Northampton); featured singer for Celebrity Cruise Lines; Princess Amelia in Jack and the Beanstalk (Palace Theatre, Redditch); Beverly in Diva Fever (Edinburgh Fringe) and Bugsy Malone, Whistle Down the Wind and The Wizard of Oz (National Youth Music 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? 

I was at home with my parents cooking dinner with the news on in the background. I have been staying with them while I’ve been waiting to go back on tour with Cats the musical as Jennyanydots. Earlier that same day, I had found out that the Cats tour had been cancelled, so a sad day all round really. My heart just went out to everyone involved in all aspects of the theatre industry but also, I felt a great sense of unity.

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

I’ve actually been spending my time volunteering at a soup kitchen where I live in Leeds. In all the panic-buying nonsense, I couldn’t stop thinking about little old ladies with no toilet paper and it just made me so sad. So when I saw a call-out on Facebook for someone to help answer the phones at this restaurant turned soup kitchen I just knew I wanted to help. It's an amazing place doing amazing work, providing free meals for the elderly and vulnerable, and the NHS staff all over Leeds. Completely run by volunteers and donations. I help take the orders and provide a little bit of socialising entertainment for these people that can’t get out. Lovely Allen who is 90 and self-isolating, likes to read me the news!

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've found that social media can also be a huge help when it comes to a positive mental attitude. For instance, I can do workouts with trainers on Instagram live and take part in my friends classes through other means of social media. I've also taken part in career aiding workshops online. I guess the trick is to avoid the mindless scrolling 

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

Support each other. That’s the only advice I can give on that.

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

If you're a bit geeky like me and you're into Greek mythology, I highly recommend “Circe” by Madeline Miller. I promise you, you won’t be able to put the book down!

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

Last weekend, we had a socially distanced street party. Everyone sat on their own driveways while song requests were played out on a speaker for the whole street to listen or dance to depending on what you're into or how much wine was consumed. Then we all went inside to have an indoor street party quiz. It was pure chaos!

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

Spending real time with my sister, a screen just doesn’t cut it. Also, giving my grandma a very big squeeze!

We'd like to thank Abigail 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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