Thursday, 2 April 2020

The Corona Diaries: James Phoon

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*Some information mentioned in this article may be out of date due to the progress of the current situation.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

James Phoon is probably best known from his time in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at the Palace Theatre where he played Craig and covered the role of Scorpius. His other credits include the title role in Peter Pan (Storyhouse); Benny/Iona in Southern Baptist Sissies (Above the Stag); and the UK & Ireland tour of the Regent's Park Open Air production of Lord of the Flies. 

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 actually at a friends’ house celebrating her birthday. We pretty quickly realised that this would probably be the last time we’d be seeing friends in person for a while!

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

I was in the West End company of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child for a couple of years. Since the lockdown started, the global community of company members from all years of the West End, Broadway, San Francisco, Melbourne and Hamburg casts have been joining together multiple times a week for online group workouts. My boyfriend and I are also making the most of having this uninterrupted time together, enjoying each other’s company and taking on all the odd tasks around the house which we’ve been putting off! 

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? 

My boyfriend and I recently discovered TikTok, so have been giving ourself little video projects, both for our own enjoyment and to put a smile on people’s faces. The Cursed Child fandom has also been using #lightinthedarkness to spread positivity!

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

It’s difficult. Almost all of us are feeling the financial impact of the shutdown, but supporting through creating/sharing/enjoying what people are creating is a really great way of keeping morale up and reminds us all of the value of art!

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

I’ve really enjoyed taking on personal projects. Duolingo is a great app for language learning! Also, this lockdown gives a unique chance to turn off digital content and do something in the moment with the people we’re isolating with. Whether that’s playing cards, a board game, telling a one-word story together, etc.

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’ve actually found myself chatting with friends and family via video chats more often than usual! There are also some great pub quizzes online that you can take part in either with the people you live with, or across households.

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

A lot of us across the industry have had work cancelled because of the pandemic. I can’t wait to be working with a team towards a common creative goal again!

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

For more information please visit GOV.UK and

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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