Sunday, 17 May 2020

The Corona Diaries: Jabari Braham


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!

Jabari Braham was due to appear in the U.K. premiere of ‘Daddy’ which was scheduled to play at The Almeida Theatre this spring. Some of his other credits include MAME UK Revival (Hope Mill Theatre/UK Tour); Swing in Dreamgirls (Savoy Theatre) Clumsy in Snow white (Richmond Theatre); All Star Musicals (ITV); Children in Need (EastEnders); Cover Neleus in Mary Poppins (International Tour); The Late Late Show with James Corden (CBS); Blue Peter (BBC); Ballet Shoes (Peacock Theatre); The Night of 1000 voices (Royal Albert Hall); FA cup final (Wembley Stadium).

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 meant to be continuing with the rehearsal process for the play I was a part of. On the previous Saturday, we had an in-depth discussion about the possibility of this all happening. I can’t thank Rupert Goold and everyone at the Almeida Theatre enough because they really guided and helped prepare us for this devastating outcome. With Broadway already blacked out, it was just a matter of time before the West End/regional theatres followed suit. On the 16t, when it was officially announced, I was truly crushed and concerned. It was something that had already been present in my head, so I guess my thoughts eventually met with the reality of it all.

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

Having daily structure during this time is rather important for me. Everyone’s level of productivity is different and I'm learning so much from reading how everyone is stimulating themselves in different ways. I’ve been doing a lot of exercise which I’ve loved. I went on a long walk the other week which I thoroughly enjoyed. It was just so refreshing to walk for such a long period of time and chime in with nature on the way. My calves were sore for a couple of days after though! I’m also doing some bodyweight exercises at home too. During this time, I’ve truly discovered the link between physical activity with my mental health. Sometimes it can be hard to motivate myself to start my workout. Once I get going though, I can literally feel the chemicals reacting with my brain in such a positive way. This is free and belongs to me, so I’ll be holding on to that for sure. 

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’m such a technophobe anyway so I still feel like I’m constantly learning how to use some of these apps. With apps like Instagram, I’ve literally set a limit on it. If I’ve been on for longer than 20 mins throughout the whole day, then the app will tell me. That’s usually my cue to shut it off for the day lol. The people I follow on these apps are mostly people who I know. People who inspire me and who put out positive messages, so I thank you. I keep most of my accounts private as well. Sadly there seems to be a lot of trolls on social media and I feel like more have come to light in recent weeks. 

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

I can't thank the producers enough who are streaming their shows online. Also, thank you to all the performers and creatives who are sharing their talents in copious amounts. If you can afford a small donation then I promise you that it will be hugely appreciated. Furthermore, everyone is slightly worried about finances so even if it’s a £1, you’re still making a difference and helping towards the recovery of the entertainment business. 

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

I love ‘The Chase’ on ITV, it is such an informative quiz show. I find myself mildly learning about topics I’ve never even heard of sometimes. Whenever there’s an entertainment question I feel the pressure to get it right! There’s also so many great albums and music that I’m discovering, I’m currently doing that on Spotify. YouTube is also a great platform for visuals too.

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

In times like this, I’m so grateful for technology like WhatsApp, its just so easy to use. It's enabled me to stay connected with my close friends. I also have family who live in Denmark so its been a blessing just to be able to video call on there to connect. My family and I also bond over cooking, so I’ve recently been appointed the role of head chef in the kitchen! 

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

I just can’t wait to give all my family and friends a long and big hug. I can’t wait to get back into a rehearsal room to create and learn. I’m already making a list of shows I want to go and see etc. Thank you to my agent Hugo Harold-Harrison for being so supportive during this time. I’m deeply sorry to anyone who has had to deal with the loss of someone most recently. My thoughts are with you, See you all soon. 

We'd like to thank Jabari 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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