Wednesday, 17 June 2020

The Corona Diaries: Claire-Marie Hall

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*Some information mentioned in this article may be out of date due to the progress of the current situation.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

Claire-Marie Hall was most recently seen in The Wicker Husband at the Watermill Theatre. Her other credits include Operation Mincemeat (Southwark Playhouse); The Colours (Soho Theatre); Ruth in Mites & Woman in The Sorrows of Satan (Tristan Bates Theatre); The Grinning Man (Trafalgar Studios); Between Empires (St James Theatre & Edinburgh Fringe); Tuptim in The King and I (National Tour & Leicester Curve); Gabriella in High School Musical (UK Tour & Hammermith Apollo) and Cosette in Les Miserables (Queens 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? 

I was actually in the midst of opening The Wicker Husband at the Watermill Theatre in Newbury. We had all been living on site in the middle of the countryside for the last few weeks during rehearsals, so I think we all felt to some degree quite separate and safe from the events going on in London. Then literally a couple of hours before we were about to do our press night show, Boris made the speech advising people not to go to the theatre at all. We were lucky enough to still have our press night (Paul Hart made a speech giving people the option to leave if they wished, but everyone stayed) but then the rest of the run was cancelled and all of a sudden we had to go back home. It was like a massive crash back to this really warped version of reality.

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

A big positive thing about this whole time is that I’ve finally found a lot of time to be productive in a creative sense. Whenever I’m not in an acting contract, I’m usually doing my office side job, or doing freelance PR work, or gigging, or learning material for this, that and the other. I always complained that I never had time to do anything just for myself, so being forced to stay at home and not work has in some ways been a blessing. I’ve started re-learning the piano which I’ve really enjoyed. I’ve actually started practising the Grade 6 syllabus now with the intention of taking it next year which I never would have done before. I’ve done quite a few fun, quick turnaround performance projects, from rehearsed readings to singing in concerts to filming a Shakespeare duologue. And I’ve managed to watch a large variety of theatre online, much more than I usually had the time to or could afford to.

There's so much important information and messages being spread on social media but sometimes it can be quite mentally draining and consume a lot of your time, how have you been trying to look after your mental state whilst using these platforms?

I’ve got a real love/hate relationship with social media anyhow. It takes me ages to post anything as I keep fretting about how to word things, and also I find I can go on there just to pass time and end up losing half an hour without intending to! I’ve been trying really hard to wean myself away from my phone screen moreover lockdown and not carry my phone on my person all the time. It’s not easy because it’s a real habit, but it also does mean I get less distracted from what I’m doing if I just leave my phone in the next room from time to time.

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

That’s a really difficult question and one I think we’re all still trying to find answers too. I think watch the content that is currently on offer and donate if you can. At the same time, as long as you enjoy doing so, use your skills to create your own content in whatever art form and just keep the arts alive and relevant in people’s minds.

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

Quite a bit of streamed theatre although some of it might have only been available for limited time. One of the earliest plays that I watched but has properly stuck with me was Breach Theatre’s ‘It’s True, It’s True, It’s True’. Its a very different and extremely relevant feminist piece about the 1612 trial of Agostino Tassi for the rape of the young painter Artemisia Gentileschi. Another early one that I loved was ‘STYX' which is a song cycle created by Max Barton, who I worked with previously on 'The Colours' at Soho Theatre, and his sister about their nan’s battle with dementia, her memories of their grandad and the myth of Orpheus in the Underworld. That production really affected me. Cheek By Jowl streamed a brilliant, really accessible version of 'A Winter’s Tale' which might still be available, and I also recently enjoyed watching 'Under The Umbrella' (streamed by the Belgrade Theatre) about Chinese tradition and family life in comparison to here.

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 talk to my family more or less every day and also speak to my closest friends on a regular basis, so in truth nothing there has changed. FaceTime and Zoom have become more normal than before though; I’ve had a couple of old cast reunions over lockdown via Zoom which has been really lovely.

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

My husband and I keep talking excitedly about the day we can visit our local town centre and go and sit in a coffee shop or restaurant again! That and seeing my friends in a normal social circumstance, plus getting the theatre industry back up and on its feet. I can’t wait to get back on a stage or sit in a theatre and actually watch a show in a live setting again, as I’m sure we’re all looking forward to!

We'd like to thank Claire-Marie 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.
Blog Design by pipdig