Saturday, 30 May 2020

The Corona Diaries: Emily Tierney

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*Some information mentioned in this article may be out of date due to the progress of the current situation.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

Emily Tierney was most recently seen in the UK tour of Club Tropicana, playing Christine. Her other credits include Carrie Carter/Super Hot Lady in Eugenius! (The Other Palace); Molly in Ghost (Asia Tour); Glinda in Wicked (UK Tour); Glinda in The Wizard of Oz (London Palladium); Sally in All the Fun at the Fair (Garrick Theatre); Ensemble and cover Nessarose in Wicked (Apollo Victoria Theatre) and Alice Bearne in Titanic the Musical (Shaw 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 visiting my parents (the last time I saw them before lockdown). I was deeply saddened for all my friends and colleagues currently performing in shows and for our industry as a whole, but was half expecting it. It seemed inevitable with the way the virus was spreading in London.

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

I have been baking! Too much! Aside from cakes and loaves of bread I have been really trying to take care of my mental and physical health as best I can so lots of yoga, long walks (I live in South West London with lots of surrounding green space, thankfully), reading, watching Netflix, painting (when I have the patience), photography and taking time to cook lovely meals and pretend I’m on Masterchef! I’ve just been trying to listen to my body and mind and give it what it needs each day. 

Some days that looks like a 15-mile hike in the Surrey hills followed by a few hours doing an online photography course and sometimes it involves sitting on my sofa in my dressing gown until 4pm staring into space! I think the trick is to be kind to yourself and not let anyone shame you into feeling that you must be productive every day. In terms of acting/singing, I live in an apartment with rather thin walls and a slightly volatile neighbour so have sadly had to decline the kind offers to perform in various online concerts that have been happening - dreaming of that detached house with a studio! I have been involved in some lovely charity initiatives though, raising money for wonderful charities like the Mad Trust and Acting for Others who work to support people in our industry in times of hardship.

Myself and 22 other past and present Glinda's and Elphaba's from Wicked got together (virtually, of course) and performed ‘For Good’ which was a lovely thing to be a part of. I just had to wait for the neighbours to go out to record it! 

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 haven’t watched the news in about 8 weeks! There is so much speculation online and none of us really know how this is going to play out in the long term, so I think it's important to stay hopeful and positive and just take each day as it comes. If I start to look too far ahead I can quickly become completely overwhelmed. The last few months have definitely been a rollercoaster ride and, like everyone, I have had good days and some bad. Like many of my fellow performers, I have had ALL my upcoming work for the year cancelled or postponed and dealing with the disappointment (not to mention the financial worries) of that can be hard. But we are a brilliant, creative, resilient industry and we always find ways to come together and thrive even in the hardest of times.

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

People have been incredibly supportive, donating thousands to charities that support people who work in the arts. There are some wonderful productions that have been made available online (often for a small donation) so please continue to watch those, in fact, if you need cheering up the production of ‘Eugenius’ I was in at the Other Palace is online and guaranteed to put a smile on your face! It has been viewed 150,000 times and has raised over £15k for the charity Acting for Others which is awesome! And please, when theatres do reopen come and see us! Don’t stay away! 

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

I have watched (and laughed and ugly cried through) all the seasons of ’This is Us’. It’s a masterpiece. I also really enjoyed ’Normal People’ on BBC3. And if you need something super uplifting the new Ryan Murphy series ‘Hollywood’ is brilliant! In terms of books, I loved ‘An American Marriage’, ’The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo’ and ‘Where the Crawdads Sing’. I’ve been loving watching all the National Theatre and Chichester productions which are being streamed and the musical ‘Only The Brave’, written by my mate Matt Brind is just beautiful.

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 have been so grateful for the deeper connections I’ve found with family and friends. The daily FaceTimes, Zoom quiz nights and just shopping or baking for my neighbours has brought me so much happiness. It’s been really lovely having the time to reach out to friends I’ve haven’t spoken to in a while and I have lost count of the times I have said 'thank goodness for technology'! I even had a drama school reunion with my year group from Mountview the other night which was really wonderful!

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

Hugging people, being able to travel again and acting! I miss working so much and can’t wait to get back in the rehearsal room or in front of a camera. I had been cast in a brand new musical this summer (which has now been postponed to 2021) so I will be looking forward to that happening next year and in the meantime hoping tv/film and theatre starts to limp back to life and opportunities begin to open up again. And I can’t flipping wait to squeeze my nieces and nephew and give my Mama the biggest hug. I will never again take hugs, travel and work for granted! 

We'd like to thank Emily and all other performers who have given up their time to contribute to this feature.

For more information please visit GOV.UK and

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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