Monday, 29 June 2020

The Corona Diaries: Debbie Kurup


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*Some information mentioned in this article may be out of date due to the progress of the current situation.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

Debbie Kurup is currently playing Queen Tuya in The Prince of Egypt at the Dominion Theatre. Her other credits include Blues in the Night (Kiln); Sweet Charity (Donmar Warehouse); Girl From The North Country (The Old Vic/Noël Coward); The Threepenny Opera (NT); Reno Sweeney in Anything Goes (Sheffield/UK Tour); Nikki Marron inThe Bodyguard - (Adelphi); Velma Kelly in Chicago (Cambridge/Adelphi); Sister Act (London Palladium); Oliver! (Cyprus); I Love You Because (Landor); East (Leicester Curve); West Side Story (Prince of Wales); Tonight’s The Night (Victoria Palace); Rent (Prince of Wales/UK Tour); Fame (UK Tour); Guys And Dolls (Sheffield); Pal Joey (Chichester); Poison (Tricycle); Boogie Nights (Savoy). 

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 had travelled into work and was getting ready for the show at the (Dominion) theatre. We were called down to warm up as per usual but then our lovely producer gave an emotional speech saying the show wouldn't be going ahead that night or for the foreseeable future. I was really sad but wasn’t surprised at all. Broadway went dark the week before and it was only a matter of time before the West End did too. My husband (who was working on Back to the Future -the Musical) was on his way to watch me in The Prince of Egypt. He found out shortly after that his show was closing too. I packed up some of my dressing room stuff and we sat in utter shock on the drive home. We were home and drowning our sorrows by 8.30pm.

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

I’ve created my own YouTube cookery channel "Kurup’s Kitchen” (Please subscribe!)
I was spending so much time in the kitchen anyway so thought I’d be creative and set something up to inspire and entertain others. And even if you’re not into food, I sing the odd song for you now and again with my husband accompanying me on piano.

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 looking after your mental state whilst using these platforms?

I like to stay informed and keep in the loop. Twitter is great for that. I also use it as a promotional tool but recently I’ve had to limit my use of social media. God it can make you miserable. The key is to not let social media consume you. Tap in, by all means, have a look at what’s going on in the world, do what you can to affect positive change, interact with people kindly and then step away.

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

Buy plays. Buy cast albums. Consider donating any refunded ticket money back to the theatre. Book advance tickets as soon as they go on sale. Contribute to arts charities. Support artists in their other endeavours, whether they are making face-masks, writing books, doing fitness workouts or online concerts. 

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

I can’t speak highly enough of the free theatre streaming we’ve had from the National Theatre- NT live. I know some would disagree about making the content-free but I’ve loved watching certain shows I originally missed. I can’t wait for Small Island. I read the playtext recently. Beautiful. 

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 love a zoom quiz! Yep done a few of those.

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

I miss hugging my parents. I can’t wait to have a big family gathering. I can’t wait to go to a restaurant again. I can’t wait for the shared experience of being in a theatre/music/sports venue again.

And finally, I can’t wait for people to realise how much the arts are vital and how they really helped them through this dark period.

We'd like to thank Debbie 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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