Wednesday, 27 May 2020

The Corona Diaries: Rosa O'Reilly

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*Some information mentioned in this article may be out of date due to the progress of the current situation.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

Rosa O'Reilly was most recently in the staged concert production of Les Miserables at the Gielgud Theatre. Her other credits include Nessarose and understudy Glinda in Wicked (Apollo Victoria); Soul Girl in Jesus Christ Superstar (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre); Elizabeth in Dirty Dancing (West End and UK tour); Jasmine in Aladdin (SECC arena, Glasgow); understudy ‘Eponine’ in Les Misérables (international tour and Barbican Theatre); Les Misérables in Concert: The 25th Anniversary (O2 Arena) and understudy Meat in We Will Rock You (Dominion Theatre).

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? 

It all seemed a bit surreal at first, I think we kind of knew it was coming but it was still a bit of a shock at the same time, obviously very sad news for everyone involved. 

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

I did Textiles & Design at college before going to drama school, so for the first time since then I got the sewing machine out and have made several dresses and I’m currently making fabric face masks! I’m going to try and keep this up after lockdown. I’ve also been volunteering to keep one of the local village businesses open during the past couple of months. Aside from that I’ve learnt some great new recipes, done a bit of gardening, growing vegetables and plants which is something I have never done before. I’ve also been keeping a productive career-wise by brushing up on my sight-singing and music theory.

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? 

The main way to stay positive on social media for me is to simply follow accounts that interest/inspire me or make me laugh and to not compare myself to anyone else online. In general though, my best friends and family really help me with keeping positive, we regularly check in on each other, they are always a massive support and I feel very lucky to have such an amazing close circle of people in my life. 
With the Arts temporarily shut down, how would you advise people to continue to support the Arts industries? 

There are lots of great charities that support the arts such as Acting for others and MAD trust have set up a COVID-19 relief fund which people can donate to, I was part of a video including various Wicked cast members singing to raise money for this recently and thousands of pounds have already been raised which is amazing.

There are lots of performers doing great things online and raising money in different ways and people are also taking their businesses online which is great, a lot of my friends are taking workshops and classes and I’m planning to start up coaching online soon too!

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

I’ve managed to catch up on some great series that I didn't have time to watch before, If you want a binge-watch I’d highly recommend these: Afterlife, normal people, the capture, years and years, sex education and obviously tiger king if you haven't already! I’ve been listening to podcasts too, I love Jessie Ware - Table manners and Russell Brand - Under the skin is also great. There is also so much on youtube for free, so many work out videos, yoga, pilates and all sorts of tutorials. 

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’m with family right now which is very lucky. I facetime my closest mates regularly which has been great. I’ve not done many quizzes actually, I prefer just nattering away and having heart to hearts! My best friends and I will do things like have a tapas night so at either end we will have prepared a full on feast or have a drink together. If I ever see anything really funny online I’ll also make sure to pass it on to friends and family to lift spirits! 

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

I cannot wait to see friends and family who I haven't seen in months in person, of course, this is what I’m most looking forward to, with everything going on in the world right now I think you realise that the close people in your life really are the most important thing. Otherwise hearing live music again, getting dressed up, going to lovely cocktail bars and restaurants in London and singing in front of a crowd again!

We'd like to thank Rosa 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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