Tuesday, 19 May 2020

The Corona Diaries: Matt Overfield

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*Some information mentioned in this article may be out of date due to the progress of the current situation.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

Matt Overfield was most recently seen in the UK Tour and London production of 9 to 5 playing Tinsworthy and covering Franklin Hart. His other credits include Reuben in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (Kilworth House); Shelley Berger in Motown (Shaftsbury Theatre); Swing in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (UK Tour); Swing in Tommy (Blackpool Winter Gardens) and Fred/Ballroom dancer in the new film version of Everybody's Talking About Jamie.

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 at home in London. I’d been in New York about two weeks before, and there were whispers about it happening in Broadway. So when it happened here, I wasn’t too shocked but still felt sad. Obviously, it was the only course of action that could have happened to keep people safe, but, to have Theatres all over the country closed, it was quite surreal.

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

It’s just been nice spending time with my wife and my dog. My dog is loving lockdown as he gets really nice long walks. I've been doing my best trying to keep my fitness up. With the weather being so nice, I’ve been doing HIIT workouts in the garden and going for runs. I taught my very fist online dance class which I’ve got to say, I really enjoyed. I’ve not discovered any hidden talents, but I’ve been trying to get better at DIY. I built a fence for our garden from scratch. Some would call it uneven, I call it rustic. I’m a huge comic book fan, so I’ve been reading ALOT of comics.

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 deal with the pessimism of social media by laughing it off. It seems that all of a sudden, everyone has a PHD in pandemics and have developed the ability to predict the future. The only news I watch is the government press conference at 5pm, and from what they’re saying, I’m actually optimistic. You have to have hope in these situations. To anyone that's struggling with seeing stuff on social media, just remember that the ‘crystal ball brigade’ have no more information than you. Keep optimistic, and this will be over before we know it. 

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

I know money and income is a real issue for everyone right now. But donating to charities such as TheatreMad or Acting for Others is a great way of supporting the Arts Industries. A lot of shows have been made available to stream which is great. Some, require a donation to watch, which is a fantastic idea. Another thing you can do is just keep your love for the arts alive, because when we come back (which we will) it’s gonna be amazing.

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

Well as I say, I’m a massive comic book fan. So, if you’ve never read a comic, that could be fun. Especially if you’re a fan of the marvel franchise etc. I’m currently watching The Last Dance on Netflix. It’s a documentary about Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls in the 90’s. It’s really interesting. I also love Normal People on BBC3. The acting is fantastic. My favourite show at the moment has got to be Celebrity SAS, Who Dares Wins. It’s so brutal. This is a bit disgusting, but I can’t stop watching Dr Pimple Popper. It's a Dr in America who specialises in getting rid of spots and lumps. If you like a spot popping video, that series is for you. I also recommend Code 404. It’s got Daniel Mays and Stephen Graham in it and it’s hilarious.

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

Well, my Mum and Dad have become FaceTime addicts. I chat to them most days on FaceTime now, whereas it used to be a phone call on a Sunday. We’ve done a lot of ‘let's do coffee’ meet-ups via FaceTime with friends which has been nice. I am loving the quiz thing. Zoom quizzes are brilliant. We have one everyone Friday night. The last one was name that tune. It’s like going to a pub quiz but better, cos you can wear your pyjamas.

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

Seeing my friends and family. Just being able to meet up with people. Such a simple thing, but it really affects you when it’s taken away.

Also, being able to get back to work. I know for a lot of people in this business, this situation has really made us appreciate the industry we work in. The first night when theatres reopen is going to be unreal. If I have the chance, I’m going to a show the first night it reopens. 

We'd like to thank Matt 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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