Monday, 6 April 2020

The Corona Diaries: Nadim Naaman


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*Some information mentioned in this article may be out of date due to the progress of the current situation.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

Nadim Naaman is an actor and the writer of new musical, Broken Wings. He starred in the production which made its West End debut at the Theatre Royal Haymarket. His other credits include Bertie Wooster in By Jeeves (The Old Laundry Theatre); Raoul in The Phantom of the Opera (Her Majesty's Theatre); Anthony in Sweeney Todd (Harrington Pie & Mash Shop); One Man Two Guvnors (National Theatre); Charles Clarke in Titanic (Southwark Playhouse); Anatoly in CHESS (The Union Theatre); Armand in Marguerite (The Tabard); James in James and The Giant Peach (The Watermill); Sam in Goodbye Barcelona (Arcola Theatre); Rolf in The Sound Of Music (London Palladium); Jamie in The Last Five Years (Jamie Hendry Productions). 

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 on a train back from Central London - the last time that I was ‘out and about’. I had just had a meeting for a potential show in November, and remember enjoying the quiet Southbank in the sunshine. My initial reaction to the virus’ impact had come one week earlier, when I lost my job in Athens (playing Raoul in The Phantom of The Opera). The Greek authorities beat the UK to taking steps to close theatres and similar venues, so I had already dealt with the reality of shows closing, losing my job etc. To be honest, my reaction to it happening in London was: ‘finally!’ In my opinion, it had been clear that this needed to happen for days if not weeks sooner, as was the case in many other countries. I was worried about how much the virus was spreading in and around those packed theatres. It was completely the right thing to do - which everyone, of course, now understands. 

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

My primary focus has been on what is (hopefully) the other side of this chapter; the later stages of the year. I have been working hard on re-adjusting plans we had for Broken Wings, which has had its momentum halted since we played Dubai Opera House earlier in the year. And more recently, I have jumped into my next musical; one silver lining of all this free time is the ability to write on a daily basis, so our first draft should be ready months sooner than we had initially planned. I have also joined Cameo, so have enjoyed recording and writing songs at the request of fans online - it’s a fun way to earn a few £ and engage with those missing Theatre as much as we performers do.

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 think I realised very quickly that the rules/goalposts that come with Coronavirus change on an almost daily basis. Social Media is full of people wanting answers and making plans immediately, and that can become overwhelming. I think it was easy to feel left behind if we didn’t have a side hustle or an idea of how to make money within just a few days of The Arts going dark. But this is a long haul thing, and our mental health is more important now than ever. So, I have remained positive by accepting that we are going to have an awful lot of time in these circumstances, and therefore, the amount one needs to try and achieve or address in one particular day is not necessarily a lot. We don’t know what’s going to happen next week, let alone our plans for July or August. It’s ok to have lazy days. To have days where the focus is on fulfilling social needs, however we can, or playing games, or eating treats, or binging a series on Netflix. And to remember that the whole world has stopped - you’re not missing out or falling behind in any way, you’re doing what needs to be done for a bigger picture and cause. 

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

I think first and foremost, we can all maintain our love for the Arts on a daily basis. Creators can make Art from home, and Audiences can enjoy it. Of course, it’s a given that we all miss the live element hugely. But it’s an opportunity to read more books, to write, to paint, to compose. To listen to some scores of some musicals you don’t know, rather than book tickets to see a show you’ve already seen before, perhaps. To catch up on dramas or movies you missed out on previously. My big ones, though, for those who wish to support the economics of the Arts Industry... To suggest that people download/buy albums and soundtracks if they are in a position to do so, rather than stream them. The difference in income to the writers and performers is staggering. And then to dive back into it once venues are open again, remembering that the smaller shows and venues will probably need ticket sale income a lot more than the huge commercial shows with cash reserves. If you want to support the Arts, book tickets for Regional or Fringe when this is over, as much as you might book tickets for The West End - venues are counting on it for survival. 

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

I’ve discovered that on the days that I start with a workout, I am more positive, focused and optimistic than on the days that start without one. So I’m trying to stick to that and encouraging others to do the same. Other than that… Get Disney Plus!

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

Well, I am grateful to be isolated with my family and not alone. I’m sure that I will never spend this much time with my children again! But in terms of those I am not seeing, just good old FaceTime and WhatsApp, really.

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

It sounds cliché, but enjoying the things that we used to take for granted and perceive to be so normal. Travelling, meeting friends and family, having a drink and enjoying a meal out. Watching a show or the football on the weekend. I’m looking forward to truly appreciating things that I used to consider ordinary.

We'd like to thank Nadim 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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