Tuesday, 26 May 2020

The Corona Diaries: Leanne Pinder

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*Some information mentioned in this article may be out of date due to the progress of the current situation.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

Leanne Pinder was recently seen in the London company of Waitress as a Swing and resident Choreographer at the Adelphi Theatre. Her other credits include Swing/ Co-Dance Captain in the Original London Cast of Strictly Ballroom the Musical (Piccadilly Theatre); Snow White (Palladium); Assistant Choreographer on Groundhog Day (Broadway); Swing/ Dance Captain in Groundhog Day (Old Vic); Swing, Dance Captain & Understudy Paula in Bend it Like Beckham (Phoenix Theatre); Assistant Choreographer for Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (Playhouse Theatre); Assistant Choreographer on American Psycho (Almeida Theatre); Assistant Choreographer on Matilda (Original Broadway Company, Schubert Theatre, NYC); Swing & Resident Choreographer on Matilda (Original London Company, Cambridge Theatre); Swing/ Dance Captain in We Will Rock You (Dominion Theatre); Associate Choreographer on 'We Will Rock You' (UK Tour); Iris Kelly in Fame'(UK tour); Linda/Patti, understudy Maria/Shirley in Saturday Night Fever (UK tour) and understudy Rizzo, Patti, and Cha Cha in 'Grease' (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 already at a warm-up for the evening show at Waitress. After the closure of Broadway, I was already thinking it must be coming just unsure as to when. I was doing a HUGE show cut. Sara, Gavin and NaTasha had had to fly back early to the states due to the imposed travel restrictions and we were really down on people. The gorgeous ensemble and incredible swing team had all come in early and we were re rehearsing the show. It was actually due to be the slickest finale with the least amount of people you’d ever seen!!! People juggling sugar butter and flour along with coffee, mugs and menus! But as I was about to start the physical warm-up, I saw the wings fill with people from other departments and instantly knew something was happening. I immediately felt a little nervous. I love the show so much and we had no idea when or if we would be back, so it was a strange, uneasy train ride home. 

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

The main thing I have been doing is teaching and creating Choreography. I’ve actually been thrilled to just dance a lot more and teach and take class, in a way I would never usually get time to. I offer a free class on a Friday on my Instagram. It is storytelling movement and I have so much fun and have connected with so many performers this way. I also have a couple of ex-students who are still on cruise ships so sending them a class is super important to me to keep their spirits up. I'm trying to embrace everything I can. Watching theatre and comedy, dance, singing, fitness. Very grateful for everyone providing all these things to keep people motivated.

I also run. I was meant to run the London Marathon on April 26th this year, after all that training I decided that I would still run a marathon leading up to the day and try and raise as much money as I can for my Charity, Refuge. We then did a zoom relay on the day in which I completed my last mile. It was really awesome to be a part of and people were super generous pushing me way past my fund-raising target.

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 actually actively block anything negative from my feeds. I only have Twitter and Instagram and luckily I find the people I choose to follow interesting, upbeat and positive.  I always try and post that way myself, I realise that I have a lot of young performers/students following me so the responsibility I have to be a good role model and the hope that I inspire them is really what helps me keep positive.

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

Sharing! Sharing peoples classes, crafts, links to cameo and concerts are so helpful. Someone who can donate and/or buy a ticket may just see something they are interested in they might have not seen had their friend not shared that story, that post or that link. We are all in this together and need to help one another, I saw this awesome quote which was “sharing others’ success won’t ever dampen yours” It takes no time to retweet something some else is doing and doesn’t take anything away from you. So do it, support a mate.

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

I’m reading a book right now which is Shonda Rhimes “The Year of Yes” which is so great. I actually joke that this is the year of “Yes, I will do when I can” because it makes you want to get up and out and be brave and bold and of course we are so restricted right now. I'm also a huge podcast fan, I listen to Sophia Bush “Work In progress” She is super smart and has a huge range of guests. I feel like I learn so much from each one. Also, Louis Theroux has a new podcast out and I love him! It’s excellent.

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

We’ve 'been' to a quiz every Friday which my good friends Matt Mckenna and Lisa Darnell run. It’s so much fun, So many theatre folk and friends on there and they are absolute pros. Me and my Brother also host our weekly family quiz which is an absolute riot. It’s such an awesome thing to do to keep connected and actually spend time together. We really have a laugh and its become a time that I really treasure. My whole family are great at sending picture quizzes, anagrams, word games, every one offering up something and making the effort. 

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

I just want to be on stage again. I can’t wait to perform. Whenever, and however that might be and whatever the battles we will have to face before we get there, that feeling, when the lights go up, will be so sweet!

We'd like to thank Leanne 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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