Tuesday, 5 May 2020

The Corona Diaries: Joreen Bautista

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*Some information mentioned in this article may be out of date due to the progress of the current situation.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

Joreen Bautista made her theatre debut in Miss Saigon on the UK and Ireland tour. She was the alternate to the role of Kim in the touring production of the London revival.

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 have taken a break from performing in musical theatre for quite a bit now. Ever since I’ve resumed studying back home in the Philippines and started uni in August 2019, I decided to align my focus on that for the time being. That being said, I do keep in touch with my actor friends in the UK and I keep myself updated with what is happening from across the pond. It obviously was heartbreaking for me to hear about the closure of Theatres in London; I was still very much looking forward to coming back at one point. As for my friends in the industry, I did not hear the best news from them - unemployment sort of abruptly took over. But what I admire most is the strength everybody has been developing in dealing with this situation, and the understanding each artist displays for one another.

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

I used to barely post covers for someone who loves filming herself singing. But recently during the lockdown, I have been doing quite a lot of that and I never thought it would supply this much fulfilment seeing people enjoy what I do online. Having absolutely no means of going out also got me learning new pieces on the piano, learning new recipes (I hardly ever cooked before), learning more German, acquainting myself with Adobe Photoshop, reading, and working out - I used to dream of actually having the time and willpower to do all that and more, and now it’s here!

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?

Whenever I can, I do my occasional social media detox. I’ve been wanting to try this and I believe now’s the perfect time to do it. Now that the world has been brought to a halt since the start of lockdown, we are given the means to take our phones and laptops away at least just for a few moments without having to worry about duty calls.

However, I am aware that this whole situation demands to be felt and that things far larger than our own personal inconveniences are at stake. I use these little breaks to allow me to take in the information much better whenever I get back on social media. But however much I try to avoid negative mental attitudes, I also try to update myself with what is necessary to know. It’s a matter of picking those you know would educate you and keep you off ignorance, and deciding which ones to leave out of your worries.

Prayer also does a lot of help in my personal experience. And in a situation of chaos and fear, it somehow gives me peace to believe that there is still a God who is in control.

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

Theatres may have been temporarily closed, but I refuse to believe that the arts are (even temporarily) shut down. If anything, the arts are very much alive at this time of paralysis-- broadway shows are streaming, singers are doing online concerts, musicians are doing musical covers, writers are writing, composers are composing, dancers are dancing, painters are painting, and creators are creating. These artists prove their passion all the more at this time and the art that’s being produced out of it is keeping everybody’s days so vibrant.

It would be great if people could donate to the arts online, or buy tickets to shows in order to support actors. But if those are a bit too much for a few others who are struggling as well, then I suggest at least take the time to watch and share these things artists do to keep people sane. Support them and be blessed in these dark times by the craft all beautifully pieced together by these legends! 

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

There are Ivy League and Harvard courses you can take online for free. I suggest you grab the opportunity and explore what they offer while it’s there. A lot of artists are also offering tutorials online; whatever you want to learn - everything’s just at the tip of your fingers.

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 talk to them every day! We would have calls over Zoom or Messenger, do Netflix and Youtube parties (we love watching movies and videos together), and even group workouts via video call. If you’re familiar with the game Werewolf, it’s actually available to play as a group in the messaging app Telegram. My block at uni plays that a lot. It’s really fun!

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

I am looking forward to just seeing my friends in flesh and bone again and actually getting to give them all the long-overdue hugs. I will no longer take our moments for granted when it all could finally happen again.

We'd like to thank Joreen 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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