Monday, 6 April 2020

The Corona Diaries: Kara Lane


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*Some information mentioned in this article may be out of date due to the progress of the current situation.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

Kara Lane is a musical theatre actress who most recently has been working with The Girls From Oz and The Jive Aces. Her theatre credits include Mrs. Banks in Mary Poppins (Tour), Beggar Woman in Sweeney Todd (Derby and Colchester), Baroness Elsa Schraeder in The Sound Of Music (Dubai), Gertie Cummings in Oklahoma! (National Tour); Dolly Tate in Annie Get Your Gun (National Tour); Anais Nin in the UK premiere of The Mistress Cycle and creating the role of Zurline in Claus (Both at the Landor Theatre, London); Reno Sweeney in Anything Goes (Kilworth House); Rose Seller and first cover Nancy in Oliver! (National tour); First cover Diana Divane the Opera Diva in Lend Me a Tenor The Musical (Gielgud Theatre); Magenta/Usherette in The Rocky Horror Show (National tour and Singapore); First cover Eva Peron in Evita (National tour); Ghost of Christmas Past in Scrooge (National tour) and Mary Magdalene in Jesus Christ Superstar (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?

I received a text from a friend who’s in a West End show saying that they’d just been called into the stalls for a meeting before their performance and were told they all had to go home as SOLT theatres were closing until further notice. I was heartbroken for all my friends who thought they had the security of a long-running show, especially those with families. At this point, I wasn’t sure if my theatre shows with The Jive Aces were cancelled or not as there was talk of smaller, independent theatres continuing their runs. We didn’t have confirmation that they were until a few days later.

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

Before all of this happened I felt like I had so much going on and a lot of things I was striving to achieve. To be honest, I was feeling overwhelmed. I was desperately in need of a break from it all and just needed some time out in order to get back on top of things. Well, I guess it’s a case of “be careful what you wish for”, because I certainly have that now, which is great on a personal level, but at such a huge and horrible cost. I certainly feel a sense of guilt and selfishness when I start to look at the positives in my own life while there are so many people suffering right now, but maybe that is exactly what we all need to be doing in order to get through this and to lift each other up. Our own happiness is going to have a knock-on effect on others (even when social distancing), so I think if we want to make a difference then perhaps we need to start with that?

So, focusing on my personal positives, I am extremely fortunate to live in the countryside where there’s plenty of outdoor space. I've started a veggie garden which I’ve always wanted to do but have never had the time. Nothing has grown yet and it’s been over 3 weeks so maybe that’s not my talent! My boyfriend and I have been sorting out a lot of things around the house and I’m sure we’ll still be organising things for weeks to come. I purchased a studio mic and some basic sound studio equipment and am learning how to use that as well as looking at doing an online video editing course so I can produce some music videos for the cabaret group I run ‘The Girls From Oz’. I’ve been doing yoga every morning which really sets me up for the rest of the day. I’m also going to start doing some online dance classes. I’ve been very good at working out a meal plan every week and sticking to it to make sure we are eating healthily and don’t waste any precious food. I’ve experimented with new meals and have to say that they’ve all been a success... so far!

Most importantly though, I’ve been able to spend some quality time with my other half who is usually jet setting around the world for his job. He’s still working constantly but at least it’s at home where we can spend mealtimes and evenings together. It’s a very rare opportunity for this to happen so I’m grateful for that.

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 been keeping myself busy and only looking at social media once a day.

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

There are so many people streaming their performances, shows and classes online at the moment with the option to donate to either the actual performers or charities that are helping theatres and performers get through these tough times. Actors, musicians, technicians, producers, designers and creatives, in general, are the first to be there helping to raise money in times of trouble. They offer their services for free in these times even though it is their livelihood and, generally speaking, are living hand-to-mouth throughout a lot of their careers. Now the whole world is in trouble and creatives were among the first people to lose their jobs, however, they are still there offering their talents to help keep up morale and are simply asking for a small donation in return. If you watch these, please donate, or at least share their posts so that it may reach people who are in a position to do so. Also, if you’ve booked tickets for shows during this period and are able to donate the ticket price to that show then trust me, they will appreciate it hugely!

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

Actually, I did a Livestream a few weeks back with The Jive Aces. I was lucky to get that in just before we went into complete lockdown. It was actually the night before all the bars and restaurants shut. If you head over to their Facebook page then you can view that. It’s got nearly 20,000 views which is fab!

Other than that, I love Boho Beautiful on YouTube for a fantastic daily yoga workout. My friend CJ Johnson (The Light Princess, 42nd Street) is doing a weekly Livestream called THE CORONA SESSIONS on Friday nights (facebook.com/cjjohnsonvocalcoach). 10% of donations go towards the charity Acting For Others.

TV-wise, I love a good documentary, and Simon Reeve has done a great one about the world on BBC iPlayer. I finished watching The Act on Amazon last night which was good too. 

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

We’ve actually started arranging dinner dates with friends most nights via the Zoom or Houseparty apps. Also, I’ve been having virtual coffee with a different friend most mornings via FaceTime. I’m definitely catching up with my friends a lot more at the moment!

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

Getting back on stage! I love performing with The Jive Aces. It’s a completely different genre to what I’m used to but we have an absolute ball on stage every night and because it’s jazz and not music theatre, every night is completely different and we have the freedom to really connect and chat to the audience and go with the flow. Also, I’ve been offered a rather exciting role in a show towards the second half of the year so I can’t wait to start that! Who knows if it will start when it’s meant to but I have my fingers crossed that even if it doesn’t it will just be postponed.

We'd like to thank Kara 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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