Tuesday, 5 May 2020

The Corona Diaries: Darren Carnall


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*Some information mentioned in this article may be out of date due to the progress of the current situation.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

Darren Carnall is the associate choreographer on Back to the Future the musical and also the choreographer for the UK tour of Friendsical. HE works as a Choreographer with credits including The Ruling Class (Trafalgar Studios); The End of Longing (Playhouse Theatre); Friendsical (UK Tour); Associate Choreographer on Kinky Boots (UK); Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (Savoy) and The Christmasaurus Live (Eventim Apollo) and Resident Choreographer on Ghost the Musical (Piccadilly Theatre). His performing credits include Viva Forever (Piccadilly); Legally Blonde (Savoy); Lord Of The Rings (Drury Lane); Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (Palladium); A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum (National); Guys & Dolls (Piccadilly); La Cage Aux Folles (Playhouse); Saturday Night Fever (UK Tour); Witches of Eastwick (Prince Of Wales); Chicago (Adelphi) & Fosse (Prince of Wales).

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 home in London having just got back from Manchester at the end of the previous week where we opened Back To The Future The Musical which I am Associate Choreographer on. I was supposed to head back up to start understudy rehearsals on the Tuesday and never made it back as the show was closed in accordance with the advice from the Government. I just felt so sorry for the cast and backstage team as they had worked SO hard during the rehearsals, tech and preview period and they were just about to be able to take a breath and just enjoy doing the show. They never got to do that but I’m SO relieved that we managed to get Opening Night done just before the closure. 

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

I have been doing workout classes with Barry’s Bootcamp on Insta Live every weekday morning to keep my fitness levels up but I haven't given any classes myself. Not saying I wouldn’t but at the moment I’m trying to just focus on getting through each day and actually enjoying spending some time at home with my husband and dog. I was away for a lot of the end of last year putting Kinky Boots on a cruise ship and the start of this year up in Manchester with BTTF so it’s nice to actually be at home! I have discovered that I LOVE jigsaws, as I think a lot of people have! It’s such a great way to focus your mind on something else during this time.

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? 

Well I have DEFINITELY been trying to limit my time online. I’ve generally found social media to be pretty positive. Maybe that’s just my amazing friends. I tend to fall in love with positive people and funny people so my Twitter feed is predominantly uplifting and my Instagram is mainly models and dogs so that’s a nice distraction too! I also rarely watch the news. I get the Sky News headlines on my phone so when there something actually relevant and important to know, I’ll see it. I just don’t need all the debate, sensationalism and guesswork that makes up most of today's ‘news’.

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

I’d say watch the shows that have been made available to you online, if you can afford to pay to watch the live concerts that people are streaming, do, and if you can donate to any of the charities helping support artists at this time, such as Acting for Others or TheatreMAD, please do. I know money is tight and getting tighter and I know there are many charities in need right now so anything you can spare really does help people struggling in this crazy time.

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

Well Disney+ has been an absolute GODSEND! It’s really not very expensive for the years subscription and if you like Disney, Marvel or National Geographic documentaries then it has SO much amazing content. We’re watching 30 Rock all over again too which is so funny and great light relief. I’ve just got the next book in the EVE series by Giovanna and Tom Fletcher. The first one was great and so I’m enjoying getting into the second. Apart from those Cross-Stitching is very therapeutic too!

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 we’ve been quizzing A LOT. Our friend Darren Bell has been doing two a week and there’s been plenty of opportunity to dress up and do some makeup too so that’s been fun. We’ve actually made some new friends through them too. I even suggested that when this is all over we should meet up in person and do a quiz as we have never met half the people we see twice a week! Also this week our family quiz is evolving into Family bingo for the first time so can’t wait for that. A FaceTime with a glass of wine is always nice too as we really get to chat and catch up with friends. We keep joking that we’re actually way more social in lockdown than we are in normal life!

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

Of course, seeing our families and giving them all a massive hug is a number one priority. We’re definitely going to go and watch a show on the night the West End Re-opens. The atmosphere will be AMAZING! Also it sounds stupid but I can't wait to go back to my gym in Covent Garden too. It’s my place to de-stress and I’m missing it. 

We'd like to thank Darren 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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