Sunday, 24 May 2020

The Corona Diaries: Fred Smiley

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*Some information mentioned in this article may be out of date due to the progress of the current situation.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

Fred Smiley is currently making his West End debut in the London company of The Book of Mormon at the Prince of Wales Theatre. His other credits include Simon Senior in Kinky Boots (UK Tour) and Michael McIntyre's Big Show (Theatre Royal Drury Lane).

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 at the Prince of Wales Theatre at Book of Mormon on stage waiting for warm-up, I saw that everyone was on stage including the crew so I had a feeling something was up, a couple hours prior Boris Johnson had announced to avoid theatres, pubs and bars. 

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

Since lockdown I have been trying different online workouts and started writing again, before then I had not written since college, More recently I have started up an Instagram live Q&A with people in the industry to give people something to watch and an insight into the arts.

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? 
The best way I find to cope is avoiding how much time I spend on social media, a big thing for me is trying to monitor my screen time each week, having a healthy balance of lazy film/snack days and keeping fit has helped me a lot.

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

There has been loads of online concerts and dance workshops that people are able to support the arts that way, paying into any funds that can help or just simply signing petitions it makes such a difference when we all come together and help.

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

Yes, Netflix! The Michael Jordon documentary called 'The Last Dance', it's so inspiring and 'Hollywood', so many great series to watch. I’ll be doing an Instagram live Mondays and Wednesdays with people from every aspect of the industry so if people want to tune in or take part feel free to message me!

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

Every Tuesday and Friday I do a quiz with my Book of Mormon cast and some of my previous Kinky Boots tour castmates, also just face-timing family and friends as often as I can.

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

I can’t wait to go to Nando’s and also get a haircut! And seeing family and friends but most importantly getting back onstage and enjoying my West End debut!

We'd like to thank Fred 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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