Friday, 1 May 2020

The Corona Diaries: Kathryn Barnes

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*Some information mentioned in this article may be out of date due to the progress of the current situation.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

Kathryn Barnes was most recently seen in the Curtains the Musical on the West End at the Wyndhams Theatre and on tour around the UK. Her other credits include The Addams Family - A Musical Comedy (UK/Ireland Tour & The Theatre at Mediacorp, Singapore); Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (UK/Ireland Tour & West Yorkshire Playhouse); CATS (London Palladium & UK/International Tour); Oliver! (Sheffield Theatres); The Boyfriend (Her Majesty’s Theatre); Footloose (Greenwich Theatre); Sleeping Beauty (Courtyard Theatre) and Jack and the Beanstalk (Belfast Opera House).

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 in Leicester on tour with ‘Curtains’ and we were on stage sound-checking and rehearsing a cut show. The news left a lot of uncertainty on whether the London closures would start to affect touring companies but we did our best to carry on. I remember getting ready for the show that evening and wondering whether it would be the last one. We learned the next morning that it was and we packed up our things, said our goodbyes and travelled home. I loved performing our special show and certainly didn’t feel ready to finish however I felt incredibly accepting of the whole situation. Everything ‘work-wise' is completely out of our control but I am confident that the industry will bounce back. ‘The show must go on’!

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

I am currently obsessed with cooking nut-free vegetarian recipes at the moment, call me Nigella! I have also been trying to find a suitable balance between eating everything in the house and exercise. I love Joe Wick’s HIIT workouts and I enjoy Zoom classes with the Pilates machine Emily Langham. I’d love to give a shout out to everyone who is giving up their time to lead their online classes. I love the community in these sessions and seeing friendly faces keeps me sane! Otherwise, I've tried to keep busy and have used this isolation downtime to do all the jobs that I have wanted to do but haven’t had the chance. I have finished my Tax and have done a lot of painting the fences/decking in the garden. I’ve kept productive doing mostly ‘life and house jobs’ alongside a little bit of online teaching. All of this is helping me keep a sense of normality.

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? 

In all honesty, I try to minimise my intake of social media. However, since COVID-19, I watch and read what I need to educate myself and then switch it off. I much prefer watching videos of dachshund puppies or soap cutting, it's weirdly therapeutic, don’t judge it until you try it! I find exercise, fresh air and sun helps my positivity and there is nothing that a good cup of coffee can’t solve. It also helps me to remember that this situation is temporary and staying at home is a way of doing my bit to help all the key workers who are battling this invisible virus.

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

I think the best way of supporting the Arts is to continue to enjoy them! There is a lot of content available to live stream (such as archived shows or live concerts) that you can watch for a small donation. Grab a beverage of your choice and you’ve got yourself a sofa party! The Arts are a great way of escapism and a welcome distraction from everything that is happening at the moment. I’m very passionate about how important the Arts are to everyday life. Theatre brings people together and that is so important right now (whilst obviously maintaining the appropriate social distancing).

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

The latest podcast episode of 'Happy Place’ with Fearne Cotton and Russell Brand is a really interesting listen. During the run of Curtains, the wonderful Minal Patel started a mediation group. It was fantastic because it helped me gain another perspective to everyday occurrences so I have tried my best to continue. If anyone is looking for a few minutes of guided practise then the ‘Headspace’ or ‘Calm' App is great! I streamed Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Fleabag which was the best decision EVER! I’d definitely recommend it! ‘Curtains' also had a streaming on 14th April. I know that I am slightly biased but I think it was a great show!

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 spent a lot of time catching up with friends and family on FaceTime and I’ve also been to a few online Zoom parties! We had an Addams Family cast and crew reunion which lasted for hours and the Curtains Wrap party was a right laugh! It was so lovely to see everyone and we had fun reminiscing and catching up.

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

I can't wait to physically hug my loved ones and meet my mates for an afternoon of coffee (and cocktails). I also look forward to getting back into auditioning! I think as soon as this lockdown is relaxed (and it is safe to do so), I will be taking myself back into the theatre to watch and support my mates in their shows. There’s nothing better I love then watching people be FABULOUS!

We'd like to thank Kathryn and all the 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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