Tuesday, 28 April 2020

The Corona Diaries: Louise Francis

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*Some information mentioned in this article may be out of date due to the progress of the current situation.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

Louise Francis was most recently seen in the touring production of Beautiful: The Carol King Musical. Previously she was in the UK/European tour of Hair the Musical in which she played a member of the Tribe and covered Dionne, Chrissie and Hud.

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 the car about to drive up to Sunderland for the next stop of the tour and asked my company manager what to do and she told me to stay home! I couldn’t believe it when I first heard, my heart shattered. I didn’t realise the severity of it at the time. I was really looking forward to another week of tour life!

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

I’ve been using this time to pick up old hobbies like bike riding, yoga, baking and I even got my sewing machine out and started making clothes again! I could well be a fashion designer by the end of quarantine! I’ve also done some amazing dance classes online which have been keeping me in check. Something I must recommend to everyone is Pinterest- I’ve found so many cool hacks and fun things to do on there, it really is a hidden gem!

I’ve been trying to stay as productive as I can making sure I’ve got at least one task to complete each day- this makes each day fun and different from the last!

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 try to think of it this way- there is no point stressing about things out of my control. So in place of that all I can do is be grateful that I am happy, safe and healthy. As well as it being 18 degrees outside! What a bonus! I try and make something positive out of every experience, so I’m seeing this time as a time of personal growth and some downtime in a usually very busy world. By looking after myself during this time I just know I will come out of this feeling refreshed and ready to jump back into the industry we all know and love!

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

I think it’s so important to take full advantage of all the amazing things happening online at the moment. I have done some amazing classes, from yoga, ballet to a heels classes- there are so many fun things to do, we should fully support the amazing creatives who are putting on these things for us isolated artists! As well as this, lots of theatres and shows are online streaming performances which is an amazing way to keep supporting our industry so that we can come out of this stronger and more enthusiastic than ever.

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

I have recently got into a Netflix series called ‘Designated Survivor’ which is amazing and I haven’t stopped watching, so I would definitely recommend that. And this is a popular one but a must-have - DISNEY PLUS! I’m having an absolute blast watching all of my childhood favourites like ‘That’s So Raven’ and ‘Hannah Montana’. Also one online streaming platform I must recommend is @HeelsandFeelsUK on Instagram. They are amazing! They offer free yoga classes and heels classes as well as private dance classes via zoom. I do their yoga session almost every morning and it sets a lovely tone for the rest of my day.

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

Mostly FaceTime and zoom! It’s been great because it’s given me a chance to catch up with people I haven’t seen/spoken to in a long while, even years! Zoom is amazing for hosting quizzes and games nights! I’ve even attended my friend and castmate from Beautiful, Mica’s online birthday party! We all had a glass and played some music and it was hilarious, we had such a fun night even being at home!

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

I am really excited to get back into the industry I love. I can’t wait to do it all, the printing of new sheet music, searching for the perfect audition outfit, the absolute joy coming from the audience in the bows. I’m looking forward to coming back feeling refreshed and ready to live out my dreams! 

We'd like to thank Louise 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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