Monday, 13 April 2020

The Corona Diaries: Gabriela García


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!

Gabriela García most recently played the role of Gracie in Tegan McLeod's two-hander, LUNATIC 19S, at the Finborough Theatre. Her other credits include Maria in West Side Story (Manchester Royal Exchange); Vanessa / cover in Strictly Ballroom (Piccadilly Theatre); Nina in In The Heights (King’s Cross Theatre); Guys & Dolls (Mill at Sonning); Cover Molly in Ghost (UK Tour); Carmen in Sweet Charity (English Theatre Frankfurt); Hot Stuff (Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch); Rafaella in Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queen’s (The Space) and Rent (Greenwich 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 having dinner with Andy Coxon after our first day of rehearsals for West Side Story at the Royal Exchange. I was kind of ready for the news as Broadway had shut down the previous week. We knew West Side Story would be next and we started to reminisce on all the good times and all we have grown and learnt from last years show. 

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

My sister (who lives in Chicago) and I have teamed up to give my grandma some movement/ dance/ fitness classes. My grandma is in Mexico, she’s 93 and she’s not able to go to her knitting group anymore so we thought we would give her some dance lessons over FaceTime - she loves them! We can’t believe this lockdown had to happen for us to come up with this idea - we’ll definitely try to keep it up when this is all over and we are even thinking of recording some longer classes and send her the videos when we can’t coordinate a FaceTime altogether.

I have also taken advantage of all the incredible classes out there. I feel safe in my living room trying new things I would normally shy away from like certain dance styles I haven’t done in a while. I’m also trying to read all the books I’ve been wanting to read and have been just piling up! I’ve tried to keep my singing up but at times I find it hard as I don’t want to disturb the neighbours too much! 

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 don’t really see that much negativity in my social media feed. If there is something that I find negative I unfollow them, not in a mean way but my feed is there for positive things and there is a difference between posting something real that is going on in the world to keep people informed and posting something negative. 

Posting something real can have an impact in my mental health of course, a negative one - where it makes you feel powerless when you see a hospital in Italy for example, however, I think it’s very important to inform ourselves on what’s going on in the world and not shy away from the truth. It’s a terrible thing that is happening and I guess one way I have been able to cope is by writing my feelings down - no one will ever read this notebook I’m writing on and I find comfort in that. 

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

Don’t ask for a refund on the tickets you had booked if you can afford it. Support live streams and live classes by donating what you can to the teacher/ performer. And if you have the means to support theatre-related charities and funds for freelancers then please do! 

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

Jaye Elster’s bodyART class, Check out the Musical Alphabet on Instagram and twitter it will keep everyone in the theatre community inspired and motivated and Applause for thought, founder Raffaella Covino said it so perfectly in a conversation I saw Live on Instagram with Drew McOnie - this is enforced time that you can finally use for YOU and your mental health GUILT FREE. The world has stopped- you’ve got nowhere to be but with yourself. We’ve got so much discovering to do - this time is a gift really. (I paraphrased but that’s what I got from it!)

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! Thank god for FaceTime! We played Trivia pursuit with my husbands family last weekend, and sometimes I do live classes with my sister on FaceTime doing the same class, we cheer each other on through the exercises so it feels like we are in the same room. 

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

Hugging my friends and family for a really, really long time!

We'd like to thank Gabriela 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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