Friday, 24 April 2020

The Corona Diaries: Mark Anderson


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*Some information mentioned in this article may be out of date due to the progress of the current situation.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

Mark Anderson was most recently seen in the West End company of School of Rock playing Ned Schneebly, a role he previously played on the South Korean Tour. His other credits include Bloody Bloody Jessica Fletcher (The Other Palace); Salad Days (National Tour); The Grinning Man (Trafalgar Studios); Anna Of The Five Towns (New Vic); The Toxic Avenger (West End/Southwark Playhouse); Love Me Tender (National tour); The Book of Mormon (Prince of Wales Theatre); Once Upon A Mattress (Union Theatre); Legally Blonde (National tour); Mary Poppins (National tour); Hello, Dolly! (Regents Park Open Air Theatre); Honk! (Watermill, Newbury) and The Boy Friend (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? 

Long story, so basically on Thursday 12th March I landed in New York. I’d been planning the trip for the best part of 8 months and had loads of shows planned including Mrs Doubtfire, Little Shop Of Horrors and Beetlejuice. I also couldn’t wait to see Diana! The main reason I flew out was to see the opening night of SiX on Broadway because I have a lot of friends involved and wanted to support them. Plus I’d never been to a Broadway opening and I was so excited. Anyway, I landed around 1pm and checked my twitter to see that ALL Broadway theatres had closed. I couldn’t believe it. I would call myself quite stagy so, like most theatre people, I wanted to see SO many shows. Instead, I met my friend at a bar and had 4 margaritas in the space of 90 minutes. Then we went over to party where all the SIX people had gathered (social gatherings weren’t banned yet). Everyone was obviously devastated that the big opening wasn’t able to go ahead. Anyway, because Broadway was shut, there was no point me really being in New York so I booked an early flight back to London. I landed back in London on that Monday 16th. So, I guess you could say that whenever I entered a country, they shut down the entire theatre industry. I don’t think it’s my fault though.

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

I LOVE cooking and even have my own vegan baking Instagram account. So I’ve been trying to master bread making which is something I don’t normally have time to do. I also write, lyrics mainly, and have been working with a few of my collaborators on various things. There’s a whole load of new writing opportunities on social media as well as working on my own stuff. I’m also writing a children’s book which has been in my brain for the past 8 years. Quarantine has allowed/forced me to finally finish a first draft.

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? 

There’s negativity? What I have seen is so many friends offering bake-alongs, workouts, singing lessons, dance classes. I’m quite good at not following people who are negative or who have a negative impact on my mental health. I also take social media with a pinch of salt and don’t get too involved. I’ve been trying to keep a routine to keep my mind busy too. I’ve been walking, working out at the same time every day, being creative in the afternoon, then affording myself to watch Disney+ or Netflix in the evenings without feeling guilty. But also, one day I didn’t do any of those things and mostly lay on my bed and that was ok too.

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

What’s impressed me most is how, as theatre people, we’ve had our whole world’s torn apart, yet we’re adapting and finding different ways of sharing art and supporting artists in a time of crisis. So, take the classes online (and pay if you can), get involved with the competitions and projects, give to theatre charities if you can afford it and mainly just keep being creative and support your peers who are putting stuff out online. Write, dance, sing, monologue, play instruments, make films. There’s going to be so much art that comes out of this and I’m so excited for it.

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

Money Heist (or La casa de Papel) on Netflix is truly brilliant and well worth investing in.

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

The quizzes are awesome. There’s a few good industry ones that literally hundreds of theatre people are tuning in to. It’s so cool. My mate Sam did one and I ashamedly came last and was pretty fuming about it. I’ve been chatting to my family just as we always do, family WhatsApp group is a winner and constantly active. My sisters share pics of my nieces and nephews and the great stuff they’re doing for home-schooling and staying active. I’m super proud of them. My sister, mum and dad also work for the NHS and they’re honestly superheroes.

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

I just want to see people's faces in person and be able to touch them all over. Hopefully this incredible weather will still be around once lockdown is lifted. I’m imagining a park and beers and hummus. Also, can you imagine the first night in the theatre when this is all over? What a party! What would be a good first-show-back to see? Come From Away, maybe, that’s all about community and coming together in a crisis. Ugh! I Can’t wait.

We'd like to thank Mark 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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