Wednesday, 17 June 2020

The Corona Diaries: Harrison Clark


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*Some information mentioned in this article may be out of date due to the progress of the current situation.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

Harrison Clark most recently was the assistant choreographer and dance captain on The Wizard of Oz at the Leeds Playhouse. His other credits include assistant choreographer on Once on this Island (Southwark Playhouse); ensemble and understudy Paul in Kiss Me Kate (Opera North); IQ in Hairspray (UK Tour); Nikos in Legally Blonde (Leicester Curve); Dance Captain and understudy Mark and Angel in RENT (UK Tour & St James Theatre); Fender in Hairspray (UK Tour); Chistery and Understudy Boq in Wicked (UK Tour); Ensemble in We Will Rock You (European Tour) and Jesus in Jesus Christ Superstar (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 home in South London and of course, my initial reaction was to feel so gutted for all my mates who were in shows at the time. Then realising that the job I was about to go on to, “Meet me in St Louis” at Grange Park Opera, would also be affected which, unfortunately, ended up getting cancelled entirely.  

The selfish part of me felt gutted I wouldn’t get to perform the show which was shaping up to be a beautiful production with an epic team. But the rest of me just felt a huge sense of inclusivity in the community we all love and the endless support from everyone going through this together. 

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

Well, I learnt to knit on my last job which ended in January (I had about an hour off in act 1, bliss!) so I’ve somehow managed to finish a patchwork throw. Every single room in my house is now a different colour - so I guess that’s something! 

It’s been nice getting involved in various recordings/videos - to celebrate shows that have/would have been (I did one with my ex Rent cast and what would have been current Meet Me in St Louis cast) The need/love for theatre is pretty awesome and to see so many mates involved in similar projects makes me feel proud of them all over again. 

There's so much important information and messages being spread on social media but sometimes it can be quite mentally draining and consume a lot of your time, how have you been trying to look after your mental state whilst using these platforms?

I think with everything happening in the media currently I agree that it can be draining, watching horrifying videos, one after another - but quite frankly, we should be drained! As a nation that widely remains un-educated on black history, our ancestors, the systemic racism in our country; now is our time to educate ourselves as much as possible. It’s not enough to just scroll past and turn a blind eye anymore - we are outraged and standing by our black friends stronger than ever.
With regards to lockdown; I’ve actually surprised myself at how positive and hopeful I feel about the future. I’ve been doing a lot of yoga and endless painting - I find it quite meditative. But, most importantly, when lockdown first happened I put so much pressure on myself to overachieve and to be productive. 

I think this whole situation is worldwide and everyone is in the same boat - it’s bigger than us so we all just have to take it day by day. If I manage to get through everything on my tick list then that’s awesome. But if I fancy a margarita at 5pm (4pm) on a Monday then that’s also awesome.

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

I have every faith we will all get through this stronger than ever and the need for the theatre is already so apparent but it still breaks my heart to learn of every show closure or theatre-going into administration. Give where you can. Support this art form. Now, more than ever, my fellow performers and theatres need as much help as possible so let’s get back on that stage ASAP. A 5,6,7,8!

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

I mean, I’m sure you’ve heard all the fantastic series, books and films popping off right now - you’ve already done so many interviews! However - I’ve recently discovered ‘Plex’ which basically has every single classic movie ever made on it. My partner and I are slowly getting through a ‘movies we’ve never seen’ list. 

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

My best mates and I started a ‘Ms Quarantine 2020’ weekly contest. Each week is a different category ranging from making wigs out of paper, outfits out of household items and talent rounds (things we’re not actually great at). I’ve absolutely learnt I can make a couture dress from toilet roll cardboard and an IKEA bag!

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

Hugging my friends. Seeing my family. Drinking a pint in a beer garden. Warmup?! (Who knew I’d miss warm-up?) Taking a bow and seeing hundreds of smiling faces in one room together. Auditions. The lot of it - come at me! We’ve got this everyone! 

We'd like to thank Harrison 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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