Monday, 11 May 2020

The Corona Diaries: Frances Mayli McCann


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*Some information mentioned in this article may be out of date due to the progress of the current situation.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

Frances Mayli McCann is currently in the UK touring production Les Miserables playing Eponine. Her other credits include Cynthia in the Priscilla Queen of the Desert (UK tour); The Soloist in Here Lies Love (National Theatre); Little Shop of Horrors (Sailsbury Theatre); I Dreamed a Dream (UK Tour); Kyah in Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour (National Theatre, National Tour & Duke of York's Theatre); The Gentlewoman in Shakespeare’s Macbeth (National Theatre) and The Mistress in Evita (Regents Park Open Air 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 in Norwich on tour with Les Misérables. We were told after warm-up, around 6.30. It was such a bizarre feeling. It was my first day back at work after being off sick for the last week (looking back I might have even contracted the virus as I had some of the symptoms) I was so looking forward to getting back to work and felt great after warming up, only to be saddened with the news we were closing.

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

In the first few weeks I started a YouTube channel covering duets with my fiancĂ© Chris Chung who is also an actor. But as the weeks have went on, online classes and work has picked up so we haven’t had the time to learn new material. While this time is great for being productive it’s also really valuable to take time to recharge and rest.

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?

On one hand I want to take a holiday from social media but on the other, when I have days free I spend so much time on it. It’s difficult not to compare yourself to others, to put pressure on yourself to be working out or be productive hosting classes or baking when actually it’s important to do what’s right for you. Whether that’s sitting in bed watching Netflix for hours on end or spending all day in your pyjamas. These are unprecedented times so do what makes your feel good.

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

I imagine the arts are low on the list of government priorities right now. Even before this pandemic, the arts are constantly under threat and taking budget cuts. What’s been brought to light in this time is how performers are getting creative, singing, getting orchestras together and performing live concerts from their living rooms in aid of charity. Many small theatres and companies are at risk of not making it through this difficult time, So I’d say it’s more important than ever to support the arts. One way to support is to donate, however big or small, every little bit helps. Companies such as the National Theatre are streaming shows every week and ask for a donation in return.

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

Netflix, Amazon, Disney plus, BBC, National Theatre have all been amazing sources of entertainment throughout this so far. Friends on Instagram have been offering free fitness classes and workouts, which has been great, especially on the days when it’s really difficult to get motivated. I took part in a workout with @lockdownlivelondon on Instagram to help raise funds for acting for others. Check it out, Mickey who runs it is doing West End workouts every day.

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

None of my family live in London, and I’m normally pretty rubbish when it comes to calling and facetime but being in lockdown has made me connect with friends and family so much more, sometimes I’m even double-booked for meetings, which is crazy when some days it’s so hard to fill the hours. Quizzes are sweeping every call which is so much fun, I’m quietly competitive even though I’m pretty average at them haha!

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

I am so looking forward to hugging my friends and family. Seeing people and life returning to somewhat normal. Not taking the little pleasures for granted, like meeting friends for a coffee or going for a haircut.

We'd like to thank Frances 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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