Sunday, 31 May 2020

The Corona Diaries: Aaron Jenkins


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*Some information mentioned in this article may be out of date due to the progress of the current situation.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

Aaron Jenkins was most recently in the international touring company of Matilda. His other credits include Admetus, Macavity and cover Rum Tum Tugger in Cats (Kilworth House); Cats (Universal Pictures); Neleus in Mary Poppins (Stuttgart, Germany) and Wicked (Apollo Vicotria Theatre). 

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 actually on a 15-hour flight home from Manila. It was my first venue on the International Tour of Matilda and we only managed to do 9 shows after opening! We heard an announcement during the interval that the prime minister had put a ban on travel in the Philippines and chaos erupted. We were kept on stage at the end of the show and told that it was our last show in Manila and they were sending us home ASAP. It was weird because I kind of knew it was probably coming as we were in Asia where the virus started, but when I found out that they were closing the west end theatres at home too it made it all seem much more serious. They never close the theatres in London!

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

I really, really wish I could say that I’ve been super productive and used the time wisely but I’d be lying. Some days I’ve accomplished more than others but unfortunately, I’ve not written a novel or come up with an amazing business idea that’s going to make me a millionaire. Sigh. I’ve been working out and done a couple of online dance classes but it’s definitely not been a daily occurrence. I honestly admire the people that have been doing 2 or 3 classes every single day, learnt a new skill or are just being generally proactive. I’ve just had a lot of tea and biscuits, really.

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 actually deleted Instagram from my phone for a couple of weeks but not because of negativity. I was just wasting so many hours on it every day and looking at everyone else post about all the things they were doing to stay productive and creative was just making me feel bad for sitting on the sofa. I’m not saying that they shouldn’t post those things because people should do whatever they need to do to get through this time but it’s so easy to forget that it isn’t real life and that their 15-second story was literally just 15 seconds of their 24 hour day. So I took a little break. I’ve got it back now though, I missed the memes.

With the Arts temporarily shut down, how would you advise people to continue to support the Arts industries?
  
I honestly think people are doing it amazingly already. Obviously, if people can afford to donate to the many concerts and streamings that are happening then it is greatly appreciated but I think it’s unfair to put pressure on people to give money at a time like this because everyone is struggling. Just people coming together to watch and support an Instagram live, or a Q&A or whatever can help make people feel like they’re not alone. 

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

I’ve watched a lot of Netflix. I’m sure everyone has seen most of it but some of my favourites were Unorthodox, Hollywood, Schitt’s Creek (Season 6) and Dead To Me (Season 2). We also did a Star Wars marathon on Disney+, I’d never seen any of them before and I am now a fan. If you decide to watch any of the Star Wars movies make sure you have snacks because they are long!

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

I never want to do a quiz again! No, it’s been really lovely catching up with people but I feel kind of sad that it’s taken a global pandemic to make my family do a weekly zoom call! We’ve never done that, ever. They all live in Swindon (where I'm from) and I’ve spoken to them more in the last 8 weeks than I have since moving to London 8 years ago. I also have a really close group of friends that I trained with and a couple of them organised a quiz about our college antics/holidays which was such a laugh and so nice to reminisce. 

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

Structure. A routine. Being able to go to the gym so I never have to run 5k again! Being able to go shopping and not avoid eye contact with a stranger because you’re scared that they could give you coronavirus! To be able to go and watch all of my talented friends in the wonderful jobs that they’re doing and be able to give them a massive hug afterwards! 

We'd like to thank Aaron 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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