Tuesday, 28 April 2020

The Corona Diaries: Ethan Le Phong

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*Some information mentioned in this article may be out of date due to the progress of the current situation.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

Ethan Le Phong was most recently seen playing Lun Tha in the UK tour of The King and I. His other credits include Ensemble/Cover Aladdin in Aladdin (Prince Edward, Broadway); Thuy in Miss Saigon (Prince Edward); Lun Tha in The King & I (Royal Albert Hall/UK Tour/Palladium); Abner in South Pacific (National Theatre/original cast recording); Original cast of We Will Rock You (Dominion/original cast recording); Original cast of Thoroughly Modern Millie (Shaftsbury); Elvis Chang in Jerry Springer the Opera (Cambridge); Montparnasse in Les MisĂ©rables (Hollywood Bowl); Rent (Hollywood Bowl); Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (La Mirada Playhouse) and Pepper in Mamma Mia (US National Tour). 

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? 

It was a strange day indeed. Prior to Monday's announcement, I went on Instagram on Saturday night to share my thoughts and how I felt like this could be our final performance. I slept in but was awaken by our company WhatsApp group chat as it went nuts. Because it was our day off, we didn't hear from our producers until Tuesday so were all hoping that our show would be saved just for a few more days. No such luck, we got the email. Most of the company were advised to head home in the UK and I, along with the other foreign actors, stayed in Liverpool until we were able to make travel arrangements to head back to our respected countries. Recalling my thoughts, I really was numb to the news. There was no anger to the decision, it is what it is. 

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

Paulina Yeung, who was our Tuptim on tour, and I have been creating quarantine duets. We have made two already and are working on more along with solo projects. Discovering how to use iMovie has been a challenge and joy. I have few scheduled q&a sessions with school programs via zoom. People have asked to do a live stream concert but to be honest, I'm a bit shy but when all of this is said and done, I really can't wait to be back on stage. Until then, check out our duets on youtube and Instagram. I'm always up for suggestions.

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 have stopped watch live coverage of Trump's updates. I try my best to avoid the clickbait articles on FB because there are so much anger and misleading information out there. I will log on to my friend's pages where I know they will make me laugh. I try my best to make people smile as much as I can. Laughter is the best medicine.

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

I suggest those who may have tickets to shows to not refund them as it will help save the theatre. Donate what you can to your favourite theatre company, large or small. 

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

I'm an opera lover so if you can, take time an enjoy the Met Opera as they are streaming performances. I have started rewatching Schitt's Creek. During my run or biking, I do enjoy an audiobook. Been trying my best to learn more about finances or a good biography.  

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

I'm staying with my brother and his fiancĂ© so we are entertaining ourselves as much as we can. Lots of FaceTime. I have done a few online quizzes and bingo games but not too often. There has been a lot of reunion zoom meetings from high school and past show companies. 

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

Hugging everyone, especially my boyfriend. 

We'd like to thank Ethan and all 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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