Sunday, 12 April 2020

The Corona Diaries: Karis Jack


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*Some information mentioned in this article may be out of date due to the progress of the current situation.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

Karis Jack most recently appeared in Barefoot in the Park at the Pitlochry Festival Theatre. Her other credits include Esther / Lead Marvelette in Motown (UK Tour); Eponine in Les Misérables (Queen’s Theatre, West End); Young Viveca in The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin (Theatre Royal, Stratford East & Tour); Fay in Baddies: The Musical(Unicorn Theatre); Little Inez in Hairspray (Curve, Leicester & UK Tour, Kuala Lumpur & Singapore); Chiffon in Little Shop of Horrors (Salisbury Playhouse & Mercury Theatre); Little Sally in Urinetown (St James Theatre and Apollo Theatre, West End).

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 in Scotland (Pitlochry) at my digs. It was our first day off, we had just opened our wonderful production of ‘Barefoot in the Park’ playing at the Pitlochry Festival Theatre. I knew the severity of what was going on but It didn’t completely register until I got the call from our director (Elizabeth Newman) that evening. I absolutely froze, I had no words, I was gutted and felt anxious. I then spoke with my agent (Alex France) and he informed me all theatres in London had also closed, my heart sank. 

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

Aside from spring cleaning my bedroom, singing randomly and watching documentaries or inspiring shows on Netflix’s, I have to say I’m quite proud of myself! I've never been a gym ‘everyday’ kind of girl, I, of course, stay active but don’t always stuck to a weekly routine. So, I made a vow to stick to a routine during this period. I’ve subscribed to ‘Ciara London’s’ LIVE exercise classes on Instagram, These classes are hardcore, I mean HARDCORE! I've survived two weeks so far, 6 days a week (I take a rest on Sundays) weights, resistant bands, Tabata Hiit, core etc, been pushing myself & loving it. Would highly recommend, there’s so many around the world who tune in too, so you feel supported and part of a community. When I finish each class I feel pumped & full of life, it also helps to break up the day.

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 usually do this, but I’m really making a conscious effort to focus on my spiritual & mental health. I’m spending more time praying instead of scrolling through social media, reading positive quotes, affirmations & devotions (Joyce Meyers books) it really helps me keep a peaceful & positive mindset during these challenging times. At times, I've also found it useful to take breaks from social media, some days I don’t log in until the evening, I just want to use this time to take in my home surroundings, sit out on my balcony & enjoy the sunshine, catch up with my family, do things around the house. However, when I do log onto social media, I try to follow & post positive quotes, funny videos and photos that uplift, encourage & are light-hearted, it keeps spirits high. 

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

I’ve seen lots of emails and posts about live streaming of Plays, Musicals & Concerts, so watching these would help support. I’m also tuning in when I can! Support actors who are providing online lessons, selling items they’ve created, tuning into online concerts or live videos they’ve organised. It's hard & uncertain times for all at present, but, if you can afford to, there are many Theatres (such as Pitlochry Festival Theatre) and Arts Charities asking for monetary donations. Donating, of course, would be a great help. 

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

Ciara London’s workouts on Instagram (@CiaraLondon), Positive quotes (@positivevibesquotes), on Netflix; Love is blind, Self Made, Good Girls, The Good Place, Great News (super funny), Tiger King, The Politician, Raising Dion, When They See Us, You, A Simple Favour, Next in Fashion, How to get away with Murder and Rupaul’s Drag Race! 

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

My fiancé & I are social distancing separately at our family homes (opposite sides of London) but we are making it work, Facetime and the ‘House Party’ app are big helps. We love ‘House Party’ we can play games on there, our favs are ‘heads up & the drawing game’, would recommend. Zoom is great too, using this with friends/family around the world, feeling very grateful for modern technology 

And finally, looking to the future, what are you most looking forward to when all of this is over? 
We had to postpone our wedding due to COVID-19 restrictions, super sad but I’m looking forward to finishing off wedding planning & actually having our big day when the new date comes. And of course, reuniting with my fiancé! Visiting friends and family without the restrictions, actually being able to hug people! Getting glammed up and not having to wear any protective gloves masks. The Theatre industry coming back to its full glory and being part of a show, be it ‘Barefoot in the Park 2.0’ or another exciting production, I just can’t wait to get back on that stage! Let’s all try to stay positive, stay hopeful, stay home & well. 

We'd like to thank Karis 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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