Friday, 24 April 2020

The Corona Diaries: Merryl Ansah


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!

Merryl Ansah is currently in the ensemble and covering the role of Nala in the London company of the Lion King at the Lyceum Theatre. Previous to this she was in the ensemble and cover to Heather Duke in Heathers at the Theatre Royal Haymarket and also one of the Shirelles in the UK Tour of Beautiful: The Carol King Musical. 

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 teaching an alumni workshop at Bristol University to my old Musical Theatre Society with some friends. I remember seeing a lot of messages coming through and not fully knowing what was happening as I couldn’t properly check my phone, and so had to wait until the end of the workshop to see what was going on! I would like to say that I was shocked but after hearing that Broadway had closed the week before I knew it was only a matter of time.

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

I’ve been spending a lot of time in the kitchen actually! Getting very experimental with recipes old and new, and getting back into baking whenever I can find flour! This time has allowed me to reconnect with my Masterclass subscription which has so many videos on every topic under the sun! I’m also trying (emphasis on trying) to make sure I’m staying fit with some sort of workout in the morning – I’ve also downloaded an app to learn how to do the splits again so that’s been a fun goal to work towards.

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 actually not been going on social media as much and making sure that I follow people and pages that are either funny or share good news. I’ve also been praying and meditating which helps to keep me in a positive mindset! Checking in on friends and genuinely sharing how you’re both doing also helps too!

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

Investing in it in every sense of the word! There are so many free resources now to be able to watch shows, for example, YouTube, The National, The Shows Must Go On to name a few and then Broadway HD also allows you to stream shows for a subscription fee. So, I’d say watch as many shows as you can and continued to be inspired by the stories because who knows what that might lead you to do! There have also been some amazing funds and charities set up if people wish to donate such as Paul Taylor-Mills’ Fund For Freelancers, and Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Fleabag Support Fund.

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

Netflix and NowTV have become my best friends! I’ve been watching Money Heist, 30 Rock, Insecure and Ozark most recently. I’m also trying to make my way through the list of older films I never got round to watching – I watched Goodfellas the other day and I finally understand what all the fuss is about!

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

There have been a lot of zoom quizzes going on! I also did a zoom bingo game which was really fun. But it’s also just been great to stay connected with friends and family from all over who I haven’t necessarily had a chance to catch up for a long time.

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

I’m definitely looking forward to giving all my loved ones a big squeeze. And of course, supporting theatre when we’re all backup and running! I had also caught the travel bug in the last couple of years so being able to visit different countries and explore their cultures again will be amazing!

We'd like to thank Merryl 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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