Sunday, 3 May 2020

The Corona Diaries: Samantha Thomas



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!

Samantha Thomas was most recently seen in the workshop production of Jet Set Go! at the Turbine Theatre. Before that she was in the London production of Wicked in the ensemble and covering the role of Glinda and was also seen in the original production of Les Miserables understudying the role of Cosette. 

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? 

When the news came out I was at home in London. To be honest it didn’t come as a complete shock, as over the weekend you could sense the tension building in the news and the gym I was working in had already made the decision to close. It was definitely the right decision to close the Theatres when they did, but nevertheless, it was also very sad and worrying to witness, as this was unprecedented, which made the seriousness of the situation in regard to the virus really hit home.

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

I actually returned home to Wales the day after they announced the closure of the Theatres in London, to spend time with my family. Since returning home I’ve been busy organising some online workshops. I’ve also been involved with recording a couple of songs with other Welsh West End performers which I’ve really enjoyed doing and hopefully we’ll raise some money for good causes.

As for being productive and developing new skills, I’ve discovered a love for interior design and have spent quite a lot of time giving my parents’ house a little makeover and upcycling a few items of furniture, which I found really relaxing and enjoyable to do. I am by nature someone who has to be busy, I, therefore, like to have a routine and structure to my day. I think it’s really important to dedicate a couple of hours each day to do something you enjoy doing, so I’ve been taking part in a lot of online fitness workouts and was a guest on Lockdown Live London last week, which was exhausting but great fun! I am a great believer in fit in body, fit in mind and I always find that when I exercise it relieves all the stresses that may have built up during the day.

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 have actually found social media quite a positive experience during these worrying uncertain times. There are some amazing things currently happening online which has opened a whole new world for performers and for people who enjoy listening to Musical Theatre, as well as other genres. In our profession it’s our job to entertain and so if we can connect people via social media and bring a little joy to those who may be feeling lonely or anxious, then we are doing our job. I’ve also realised that as awful as this virus is the one thing it’s given me is the gift of time to spend with my family. It’s so easy to get caught up in this hectic world and lifestyle that so many of us live and not find time for the important simple things in life and this time has really allowed me to stop, relax and rest for a while without feeling guilty that I’m not rushing around at 100miles an hour. 

I am inspired by the courage and resilience that I have seen with some of the stories on social media and also the incredible acts of kindness from people towards each other during these worrying times. There are so many good people in this country and I feel the one thing these unprecedented circumstances will do is bond us closer as a nation in the fight to beat this awful virus. 

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

There are so many ways that people can continue to support and enjoy the arts. Support live streams of concerts and live classes. There are so many amazing concerts and classes currently online, definitely worth checking out. Also, it would be wonderful if people who have purchased tickets for shows could support the theatre by exchanging their ticket for later in the year rather than having refunds. The Acting For Others charity and The Funds For Freelancers initiative has had a fantastic response, so if you’re able to make a small donation that would be brilliant, as they are helping so many people.

When the Theatres eventually reopen please, please, please come back and support!

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

I am a real fan of some of the series on Netflix like Grace & Frankie. I am currently watching Ozark which I’m really enjoying. I am also enjoying the streaming of shows which they’ve recently started, which is a great idea to be able to stay connected to the Theatre and experience a couple of hours of escapism that we all need. Would also highly recommend listening to Podcasts, love them! 

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 am very lucky to be home with my immediate family, although I do ring my grandfathers on a daily basis as they are both living alone and I do worry about them. Having said that they both seem to be in good spirits at the moment and enjoying this lovely weather in their gardens. As for keeping in touch with my friends, technology is amazing! We have regular catch-ups on Facetime and Zoom and we love a quiz! I’ve also discovered the phone App called House Party which is really good fun, where you can play a few games as well as chat.

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

Well I certainly have a huge appreciation for the little things in life and I will never take them for granted again. I’m looking forward to going for catch-ups and meals with friends and family. Being able to give loved ones a hug! I can’t wait to go back to the Theatre to watch some shows and support my mates and hopefully if I’m lucky enough be back on stage myself, doing what I love. 

We'd like to thank Samantha 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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