Friday, 12 June 2020

The Corona Diaries: Blair 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! 

Blair Anderson's credits include Assistant Director on Footloose (UK Tour); Assistant Director & Swing in American Idiot (UK Tour); Robertson Ay in Mary Poppins (UK Tour); Cosmo Brown in Singin' in the Rain (Cork Opera House); Dwayne in 9 to 5 (Upstairs at the Gatehouse); Feli in If the Lights are Too Bright (Ovalhouse); Robert in In Lambeth (Southwark Playhouse); Cat in the Hat in Seussical (Hong Kong) and Vinnie\Johnny in Blockbuster the musical (UK Tour). 

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 had just been sent home from working on Harmony of the Seas for Royal Caribbean. We were in the first week of a three-week install process for the new theatre cast when all guest workers were asked to disembark and travel home. Luckily all cast members onboard Harmony were sent home shortly after. After landing in the UK and hearing the announcement from SOLT I went straight into a three week isolation period with my flatmates and started to create my new version of normal. Initially, I welcomed the change of pace and got started on all those odd jobs around the house that you just never get around to completing. This was paired with some real emotional moments of wonderful friends bringing us food deliveries - quite an extraordinary feeling for those that are used to being so independent.

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

Playing the piano (properly) has always been something I had hoped to get around to. So I downloaded a wonderful app and started brushing up on some old skills and learning some new ones. I keep my flatmates in shape with morning Bootcamp and Stretch exercises and offer an accessible and fun fitness class ‘Blair’s Bootycamp Camp’ on Saturdays at 11am. Tickets are available on Dice. I have also been teaching for Masters Performing Arts in their Virtual HQ and for PQA Full Time Academy.

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 have learnt to trust my heart throughout this rollercoaster of an experience. If I have the energy to be productive, or I am inspired by anything I see or feel I will read something, learn something, research something, reach out to someone or create something. This time at home is rare for a lot of creative people, and can be used to build our skillset, repertoire, contacts and other aspects of our career. But, there are days and moments where I know that I will be happier eating a bag of twirl bites and watching previous episodes of Rupaul’s Drag Race. What is going to make you happy right now is the most important instinct to follow. Feed your soul and your appetite for growth and development will soon follow.

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

As you mentioned, social media can be a breeding ground for negativity. We, as an industry, can resist this and use social media for good. Actively liking, leaving positive comments and sliding into the DM’s with messages of support, gratitude for free classes or inspiration and just checking in can help brighten the days of all in the arts. No matter how confident people may seem in their content and online presence, a bigger story is being told behind the screen and positive and encouraging social media interaction will bring joy and reassurance to all, no matter how successful or put-together you may seem them to be. The minute you stop actively engaging in social media posts is the minute you should stop scrolling and reach for the nearest chocolatey snack.

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

I am enjoying catching up with television series that I have missed over the years, most of which people would have seen at their time of airing. I love a documentary series, especially ’The Last Dance’ on Netflix about Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. My Youtube search history has rapidly changed from Choreography videos and Drag Queens to Baking/Cooking Recipes and Gardening hints and tips. I thoroughly recommend listening to some great podcasts, including ’The Wobbly Road’ by Tatum Swithenbank or ‘Sh*gged Married Annoyed’ by Chris and Rosie Ramsey. Also, check out all the fun activities and streams that are coming through DICE.

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

Loving a fun Quiz (especially when a dress code is involved) and any game that we can make work virtually I am here for! Love playing games, and luckily the majority of my friends do too.

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

Hugs. Collaborating with wonderful people without a 2-metre distance or a 2-second delay and getting back in the studio or rehearsal room with my friends and students. But mainly hugs.

We'd like to thank Blair 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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