Tuesday, 19 May 2020

The Corona Diaries: Jacqueline Hughes

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*Some information mentioned in this article may be out of date due to the progress of the current situation.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

Jacqueline Hughes is currently appearing in the West End production of Mary Poppins at the Prince Edward Theatre. Her other credits include Elphaba in Wicked (UK and international tours); Beauty and the Beast (King’s Theatre Edinburgh); Company (Aberdeen Arts Centre); Dick Whittington (Manchester); Cinderella (Dumfries); Mad About the Musicals; Doreen the Steamie and understudy for Winifred Banks, Mrs Corry and Bird Woman in Mary Poppins (UK Tour).

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 actually at home as I’d begun to experience symptoms of COVID 19 the night before. So I was feeling pretty rubbish anyway. But I was sad, sad for our industry, the unknown, the what if’s. Seeing the pictures on the news of Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square so empty brought me to tears. I felt like we were in a horror movie!

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

I have a young toddler so my husband and I have basically turned our home into a crèche! It’s such a luxury to have all of this time with him so we are trying to make the most of it. We are all walking together and taking in all things nature, seeing the world through a child’s eyes, it’s beautiful. I have been trying to fit in some yoga, family bike rides, indoor spinning, between the cooking and cleaning! It’s hard with a little one. We just try to go with the flow. Although, I must say I’ve baked enough banana bread to last a lifetime. I never get the time to bake so that’s been fun!

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?

At the beginning of this lockdown, I found it quite hard, I cried every time they announced another change, and of course the stress of loss of income and our industry. But I began to find the positives, I get to be at home with my beautiful family, I get to put my son to bed every night, we read stories - I play all the parts! Gradually I started to relax, I listen to key facts only, I try to exercise each day, but some days I don’t, I eat chocolate, crisps and drink gin. THAT’S OK. You do what suits you, don’t let social media tell you what you “should” be doing.

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

There is so much online at the moment! Wonderful concerts live from peoples living rooms, live chats, yoga, dance classes, singing warm-ups, fitness classes, streaming of musicals and plays, the list goes on! If you have had theatre tickets and were unable to use them, then maybe swap for a voucher or another date - if you can afford to of course!

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

My husband and I have just started Greys Anatomy - he will hate me for this, but we are addicted! It’s so nice to be able to sit down and watch something together, we never get to do that while I’m working as we are basically passing ships! McDreamy!

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

Zoom, who knew we would all live through zoom! FaceTiming family and friends, weekly quizzes of course! Gives you something to look forward too. We have also been sending paintings and cards, designed by my son of course, to family and friends. He loves a walk to the post box!

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

A coconut flat white, with a cheeky cake in my local coffee shop, catching up with friends, and my first warm-up back at work, it’s going to be emotional. I miss my Poppins family so much - you don’t realise how much you take it for granted until it’s gone. But we will back, THEATRE WILL BE BACK!

We'd like to thank Jacqueline 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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