Friday, 22 May 2020

The Corona Diaries: Michael Vinsen

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*Some information mentioned in this article may be out of date due to the progress of the current situation.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

Michael Vinsen is due to play Corny Collins in Hairspray at the London Coliseum. His other credits include Ensemble and cover Young Ben in Follies - Original NT cast (National Theatre); Ensemble and cover Charlie Price in the Original London cast of Kinky Boots (Adelphi); Ensemble and Cover Kevin Price in The Book Of Mormon (Prince of Wales); Brad in the Original London cast of Hairspray (Shaftesbury); Eugene in Grease (Piccadilly); Aaron and cover Emmett in Legally Blonde (No.1 UK tour); Peter in Bare (Union and Greenwich); Hunter in Title Of Show (Above the Stag); Just Another Love Story (Above the Arts); We Will Rock You (Theatre 11, Zurich) and Friendsical (Associate Choreographer).

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 on my way home after my first day of rehearsals for the Hairspray revival at the Coliseum. To be honest, I felt guilty, the announcement was such a blow to the theatre community and I had so many friends that were in warm-up ready to do their show that night, meanwhile, I was on a high. I’d been waiting to start Hairspray for 5 months and had just spent the afternoon singing ‘Nicest Kids in town’, we didn’t know how long theatres were going to be closed or if we would still be able to rehearse so I was perhaps naively optimistic. Then when I read about it all on social media I just felt guilty. 

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

I feel like a jack of all trades at the moment. I’ve been enjoying cooking, I love sewing so I’ve been making masks for my family and I've made a cushion. I’ve been knitting, I’ve been working on some stuff for my students that I teach at weekends. We cut the dog’s hair last week, that was an experience. I’ve cut my husband’s hair twice now (I’m getting better at it). To be honest I haven’t been using my performing talents that much. I miss it.

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? 

Mute! It’s not an attack on people, I just get frustrated. My problem is that so many people are giving their opinion on what might happen and then other people take it as gospel, then it spreads like wildfire and there’s no concern for how it affects people’s mental health. The fact is that no one knows. If the infection rate continues to deplete and a way to implement the social distancing laws in our industry can be found then we might get to open up soon. But at the moment no one knows what is going to happen. So my method is quite simply to take that negativity off my feed. Mute! 

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

Watch as much as you can online. There’s plenty of content out there being streamed and created. Keep the fire burning, if you love theatre then watch what you can because it’ll reignite your passion for it and make you want to go to the theatre as soon as you can. That’s what we’re going to need when things can re-open, people who love the arts supporting them. 

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

Disney+ is the gift that keeps on giving as far as I’m concerned. Also ‘Trying’ on Apple TV is brilliant! I’m halfway through Julie Andrew’s book ‘Home Work’ that’s full of anecdotes about her film career that I love reading about. Give ‘em a try.

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

My husband and I say we are actually more social now than we were before. I check in with my parents every day to see how they’re coping. We’ve been doing various quizzes with friends and hosting our own quiz for the family, we also bought a bingo machine so we could do family bingo. We’re learning a lot too from all these quizzes. I think there should be a West End quiz night when we all get back. 

We'd like to thank Michael 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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