Friday, 17 April 2020

The Corona Diaries: Christina Modestou


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*Some information mentioned in this article may be out of date due to the progress of the current situation.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*

Christina Modestou most recently appeared in The Boy in the Dress as Miss Bresslaw at the RSC. Her other credits include Paulina in The Winter's Tale (National Theatre); Ronnette in Little Shop of Horrors (Regents Park Theatre); Anne Boleyn in Six (Arts Theatre); 35mm: A Musical Exhibition (The Other Palace); Ensemble and cover Maureen in Rent (UK Tour); Mama Bear, Mama Ogre & 1st Cover Dragon in Shrek (UK Tour); Urinetown (St. James Theatre & Apollo Theatre); Nina in In the Heights (Southwark Playhouse) and Ensemble and Cover Killer Queen in We Will Rock You (Dominion 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 had actually just finished unpacking and settling back into London life after being in Stratford-upon-Avon for 6 months. I heard the news; repacked and left. I knew all potential work was going to be cancelled as I’d already had a gig and teaching postponed the weekend before, and rightly so. I understood the severity of the situation. I also felt so sad and nervous about how we were going to cope individually and as an industry. But you just put one foot in front of the other and do your best, don’t you?

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

I am not gonna lie, there is something quite liberating about everything stopping. Life is so overwhelming and fast-paced, it is easy to feel down about falling behind others or rushing ahead unprepared. But everyone is in the same boat now. Aside from the money worries, we can choose what we do with our time. The people in this industry blow my mind with how they support each other by doing things like volunteering, offering free classes, charity fundraising and generally trying to still entertain and keep public morale up. I have been trying to support as much as I can and join them.

I decided to early launch an idea that I have been working on for a while called The Agony Actor. It is a personal one-to-one support system for people within our industry. It is for those who don’t need therapy and don’t want to keep ‘annoying’ friends with problems. I coach, advise and help as much as possible. I’ve been offering free sessions and I absolutely love it and so many people have got in touch and we are making progress already. The response to it online was overwhelming. If anyone does want to check it out the website its www.agonyactor.com, get in touch on the contact page if you have things you want to discuss or work on. So that is mainly what is keeping me busy, alongside singing and recording, oh and an impossible jigsaw, Netflix and online quizzes with friends.

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? 

The people who know me will know how bad I am at social media but when I am on it I tend to focus on the posts that are entertaining, inspiring and moving rather than hypocritical, unsupportive and destructive. However, I do think it is healthy and realistic to see a bit of the negative and to not stay ignorant to the facts. I love using social media to connect with all of my family and friends and that gives me a huge boost. It is impossible to be positive all of the time and I am a 'glass half full' kinda gal. I just remind myself that although isolation is necessary, it is temporary. 

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

That is so hard because supporting it financially right now is pretty impossible for most, so I guess stay creative and connected to people. I have no doubt that some amazing work will come from this period in history. Everyone is different so figure out how to use this pause to your advantage so that when momentum picks up again you are ready and armed. It is also great to support the people around you and learn from them. Although, I will say, there is a pressure to be productive and if the best thing for you now is rest and time with your family then you do that. Don’t get ‘The Guilt’. We’ve all got to stick together and support one another so we can get our industry back on its feet. 

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

I mean I would really recommend the Six Cast Album to jam to, Don’t Lose Your Head is a banger!

Oh gosh, I am loving so much at the moment so here are a few things: Netflix- Ozark, Narcos, Friday Night Dinner, Tiger King (the most bonkers documentary I have ever watched), gosh so many more but I may bore you all! NT Live - releasing a free play a week on YouTube, Online play readings led by actors. Alex Young has been doing a great job with these. Theatre Fitness Girl, Natalie Hope has been doing some insane workouts for free, Jamie Tyler Yoga is wonderful!

I love boxing so Total Boxer is doing a £10 a month subscription to video workouts. Loving those! Rebecca Hickey’s 4pm daily charades on Instagram. Disney + - I MEAN EVERYTHING! but I watched Free Solo the other day. If you haven’t seen that it is pretty amazing! I plan on doing all the Marvel films in order ...eeek! Gosh I could go on with all the amazing gigs and live feeds too! 

Fave song at the moment has to be ‘Think About Things’ by Dadi Freyr - get on it! Bespoke Voice Folk are offering a remote voice reel service to help actors get voice-over work as that is one of the only areas of the industry still functioning. So definitely check that out if you don’t have a reel. 

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

Yes, lots of great quizzes *cough* one of which I won the other day *cough*. I’ve been joining cast chats on zoom and have been playing games over Houseparty! Lots of video calls with family and friends, thank god for technology eh? I think I would go slightly mad otherwise! I would really struggle if I couldn’t connect with people. Got some more quizzes, game nights and catch-ups in the diary so excited for those! 

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

Hugs in pubs! Lots of face to face human interaction and celebration. 

We'd like to thank Christina 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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