Saturday, 20 June 2020

The Corona Diaries: Joseph Davenport

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*Some information mentioned in this article may be out of date due to the progress of the current situation.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

Joseph Davenport is currently in the London company of The Book of Mormon at the Prince of Wales Theatre. His other credits include Memphis (Shaftesbury Theatre); Matilda (Cambridge Theatre); Mamma Mia! (Prince of Wales Theatre); All-Male Pirates of Penzance and Iolanthe (Wilton’s Music Hall & Rose Theatre, Kingston); Aladdin (Courtyard Theatre, Hereford); Harry in After The Tone (Bridewell Theatre); Crazy For You (London Palladium); West Side Story (Albany Theatre) and A Chorus Line (Battersea Arts Centre).

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? 

It was really weird for me because I was actually on holiday a few days prior to this happening. I had booked some time off for laser eye surgery (which I cannot recommend enough by the way!) so I wasn’t in work on the Monday when they got the announcement that shows in town were closing. I was texting my dressing room boys and shortly after what would have been our warmup, one of them just messaged saying ‘We aren’t going up tonight.’ 

At first, it was a ‘schools out’ kind of feeling but then as the night went on at home, as I sat there listening to the radio with my protective goggles on (it was such a look) - the realisation that this may be long term started to set in. However, I think not being with my cast at the Prince of Wales didn’t really seem as real as it probably did for them.

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

To be really honest, there have been a lot of plans to learn new things. Not an awful lot has been actually happening just yet, but I’m not on a time schedule. I think you can be your biggest enemy in that sense, if you need to have a day or two of just sitting and doing absolutely nothing that’s absolutely fine. However, I have bought a ukulele which I plan to start learning, I’ve been busying myself with DIY projects at home, doing the little jobs you never get round to doing, cleaning (A LOT - I blame Mrs Hinch) and I have enrolled in a sign language course online, as I thought this would be a nice new skill to add to the spotlight page!

I’ve taken up running, something I thought I would never do, as I’m not in any way a gym lover, but its a really great way to keep fit and give yourself a bit of me-time in the outdoors. We have been given pretty decent weather recently too, so I’ve tried to get out in it as much as I can. 

I usually teach over the summer holidays for a theatre summer school, and since that is likely not happening this year, I have been doing a bit for them through Zoom, teaching a few classes, doing a few Q&As, but nothing too intense.  I have found the weeks have gone pretty quickly up to now, which I’m grateful for - and there’s ALWAYS things to do around the house!

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 have set a limit on my social media and I’m happy to say I never even reach it. At first, I was always into getting the BBC News updates, looking on twitter at statistics but after about two weeks I found this to be counter-productive for my mental health. Everything we see online is so dramatic and don’t get me wrong, it’s great to be in the know, however, I think there’s enough negativity and such in the world already, particularly online, without the added hourly updates of death rates and how long this lockdown may continue. It does nothing for me.

Music is a saviour in times like this - I have Magic Radio on all day, pretty much every day, as their music is always ‘feel good’ and it is a great form of escaping the world’s traumas.

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

What has been nice is to see and hear about, is a rise in Equity memberships since this happened. I’ve been a member since I graduated in 2010, and I’m currently an Equity Deputy at Mormon and it's at times like this when our union really helps us out so if you aren’t a member, join!

I try to support as many friends as I can if they are showcasing their talents online through classes or YouTube channels or whatever. It’s a very judgemental world we live in and I think especially at this time every one of us creatives needs an outlet and the support to do it.

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

Me and my boyfriend completed the 22 Marvel films recently, which we thoroughly enjoyed (thank you Disney+). He has also gotten me into Glee as I never watched it when it was on. We are currently near the end of season 2 and I have to say I am hooked! I would also recommend the documentaries on Disney+ narrated by Jeff Goldblum - they are fantastic, Tiger King on Netflix was just outrageously good, and being a horror fan, the remake of Childs Play featuring the Chucky doll was super fun, as was Crawl - the incredibly tense alligator movie of last year (I think that’s on Prime though!)

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 have really taken to the role of quiz master on many friends’ group quizzes and I do our weekly Mormon quiz on Zoom. These are great fun, I’m getting to learn a lot along the way (for example what colour vermillion is) and it's one way of keeping in touch with friends and family and takes the edge off lockdown. And every quiz will feature gin or wine; so it’s a win-win situation!

My parents live abroad so in a way not much has changed in that respect, but I really miss my cousins who are literally like my sisters down in Guildford and it's killing me that I cannot see them in person. 

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

Hugging my friends and family and not feeling weird about it! It almost feels alien now. It may sound dramatic but I really do feel like when this is over, the world may not be the same again in some respects. Which is daunting, but it's also reality. 

We are supposed to be going to Florida in August, and it doesn’t look that hopeful, so I can’t wait to go there next year if it comes to it.

I am really looking forward to going for drinks with my friends and just getting back to ‘normal’. Getting back to annoying my dressing room boys, but most of all I cannot wait to get out there and start telling the Mormon story again and just feeling the euphoria of having an excited audience in to watch us.

We'd like to thank Joseph 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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