Thursday, 7 May 2020

The Corona Diaries: Ibinabo Jack

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*Some information mentioned in this article may be out of date due to the progress of the current situation.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

Ibinabo Jack was most recently seen in The High Table at the Bush Theatre. Her other credits include ImmaculĂ©e in Our Lady of Kibeho (Royal & Derngate Theatre); Lorrell Robinson in the original London production of Dreamgirls (Savoy Theatre); Ensemble/1st cover Nicki Marron in The Bodyguard (UK Tour); Julie in Hot Stuff (Oldham Coliseum Theatre); Come Closer - A Letter to You (Royal Exchange Theatre); Chiffon in Little Shop of Horrors (Manchester Royal Exchange); Porgy & Bess (The Royal Danish Theatre); The Color Purple (Menier Chocolate Factory) and Pilar in Legally Blonde (Savoy 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 at Bush Theatre warming up before a performance of The High Table (written by Temi Wilkey and directed by Daniel Bailey) when the Artistic Director Lynette Linton and Producer Jessica Campbell called our cast into the theatre and broke the news to us. It was surreal. We were supposed to be doing a final week at the Bush followed by 3 weeks at Birmingham Rep. I remember feeling numb and disoriented as I packed up my dressing room. 

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

I’ve honestly been really grateful for rest! I’ve been watching a lot of TV, revisiting old favourites like Modern Family and I’ve been watching a film with my friend Nkechi at 8 (ish) every night. We take it in turns to chose the title and we text each other throughout. I’ve always written poetry and short stories so it’s been lovely having the time to develop some of my older ideas and I’ve started to write a play that I’ve been putting off for ages!

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’ve been keeping positive by doing yoga every morning and meditating/deep breathing whenever I feel overwhelmed. I live alone which usually suits me because I’m an introvert, but not being able to see my friends and family has been really tough. I’ve been kind to myself though; eating mindfully and staying rested and hydrated has been really beneficial and I watch a lot of comedy to keep me laughing out loud. 

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

At this time I think that it is imperative that we look after ourselves and each other. So many of us are now unemployed for an indefinite period of time and that level of uncertainty can be terrifying, so I say that we try to support each other’s mental well-being. Emotional support is vital at this time. 

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

I’m currently making my way through Toni Morrison’s novels which are the perfect source of escapism. I love The Receipts Podcast (Spotify), TedTalks on YouTube and I have Netflix and Amazon Prime for all of my TV and film needs. I recommend ‘Gumbo Unplugged’ by PJ Morton and NPR Tiny Desk if you’re missing live music. 

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’ve been using Houseparty and FaceTime to chat to friends and family and on Sunday, my niece hosted a family quiz on zoom! I also play Words With Friends with my brother in law every day and my best friend and her daughter surprised me with ‘doorstep snacks’ last weekend. 

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

I’m most looking forward to getting back to doing what I love and being able to squeeze all of the people that I love. 

We'd like to thank Ibinabo 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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