Sunday, 17 May 2020

The Corona Diaries: Melissa Nettleford


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*Some information mentioned in this article may be out of date due to the progress of the current situation.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

Melissa Nettleford is currently playing Ali in the London production of Mamma Mia! Her other credits include Aladdin (Broadway Theatre, Catford); On The Town (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre); The Lion King(Lyceum/Hamburg); Rocky: Das Musical (Hamburg); Mamma Mia! (Stuttgart); The Rocky Horror Picture Show (European Tour); We Will Rock You (Zurich/Vienna) and Hairspray and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (UK Tours).

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? 

That day was pretty surreal. I was already at the Theatre in my dressing room. I was putting on my make up and getting ready for warm-up when we got word of the closure of Theatres. It was the weirdest feeling. I knew it was coming at some point but I couldn't have predicted it would of been that soon and so abrupt. I felt so out of sorts packing away my things and saying goodbye to everyone not knowing when we will see each other again. 

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

I think it is really hard sometimes to try and be productive. I definitely have days on the sofa when I need to. I'm working out a lot through live stream classes on Instagram and I have got back into running which I love. I also have weekly get-togethers via zoom and facetime with friends and the latest addition has been a weekly virtual Theatre trip! Picking out something new to watch every week is fun and normally when I'm working I don't always get the time to see other works so I'm really enjoying that. 

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? 

Honestly social media can be a blessing and a curse! My advice would be to limit the amount of time you are on it and even take full days away from it. Unfollow negative feeds if need be, it will be much better for you mentally at this time.

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

If you want to help support the Arts industries please do watch all the live showings that are around and donate what you can. Also please support charities such as Acting for Others and Applause for Thought who are doing so much to help Theatre workers financially and emotionally in times of need.

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

There is so much online right now but Netflix is definitely my friend! I'm enjoying the variation of rewatching light-hearted series like Modern family and watching Dramas like Unorthodox.

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

Gosh, there are so many quizzes happening which is lovely. I am doing lots of facetime or zoom calls. We are so fortunate to have all these options to connect with our loved ones.

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

Seeing my friends and family and giving them all a big squeeze!

We'd like to thank Melissa 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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