Tuesday, 23 June 2020

The Corona Diaries: Landi Oshinowo

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*Some information mentioned in this article may be out of date due to the progress of the current situation.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

Landi Oshinowo is currently playing Mrs Phelps in the London production of Matilda the Musical. Her other credits include arene in The Color Purple (Leicester Curve/Birmingham Hippodrome); Nell in Ain’t Misbehavin’ (Mercury Colchester/Southwark Playhouse); Widow Zuma in A Little Princess (Royal Festival Hall); The Witch/Jenny Hill in Big Fish (The Other Palace); Hattie in Kiss Me Kate (Welsh National Opera); Joyce Heath in Barnum (UK tour); Miss Sherman in Fame (UK tour); Ensemble/understudy Sargent in The Light Princess (National Theatre); Poopsie in The Pajama Game (Chichester Festival Theatre); Dragon/Ugly Duckling in Shrek The Musical (Theatre Royal Drury Lane); understudy Deloris in Sister Act (London Palladium); Martha R/Gladys K in Dancing in the Streets (UK tour); Etta James in Sweet Soul Music (UK tour) and Acid Queen in Tommy (UK tour).

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? 

Our day off at Matilda falls on a Monday, so I was at home when the news came that all theatres were to close. I was in shock even though we all knew there was a strong possibility of it happening. I don’t think any of us thought it would be quite so soon. I felt as if all the show energy was knocked out of me. 

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

The most creative things I’ve done are recording songs with fellow performers for social media and writing material for my own projects. On Saturdays I volunteer at the breakfast club at my church, New Wine Church, were packs of food are handed out to the homeless and disadvantaged. We also prepare and deliver about 100 lunch packs to healthcare workers at our local hospital, Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich. 

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’m a woman of faith, attending church regularly - albeit online in recent months. This helps me keep a positive mental attitude about the current state of things It’s important to look on the bright side and appreciate the positive effect lockdown has had on families, relationships, the environment. To be honest, I’m enjoying the rest and reset.

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

A common excuse people give for not being able to go to the theatre, is lack of time. The lockdown has by default made theatre shows and plays more available online. This has really opened up the industry to everyone, allowing old patrons continued support of the arts, while giving access to new audiences. 
It is also important to support those who work in the arts ie actors, musicians and creatives whose workshops and webinars are available online to both adults and children. 

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

I have discovered a plethora of acting and singing courses, exercise classes, and great tutorials on a number of interests from gardening to interior design. I would recommend Udemy and Cosera for great courses at affordable prices. 

YouTube has also been a great resource and I would recommend the following: For acting coaching and advice - Wendy Alane Wright and Alexia Robinson (Acting coaching is subjective and there are many great coaches out there). For exercise and weight training - Zeus Fitness, Heather Robertson, Pamela Reif and E Fit with Keaira LaShae. For gardening and plant care - Garden Tips. 

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 have been on Zoom since lockdown! I can honestly say I’ve spoken to and connected with more friends and family in two months than I did the whole of last year. I have also been many FaceTime and What’s App video calls. One of my favourites was a quiz with the Leicester Curve cast of Color Purple, a few weeks ago, we had such a blast!

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

I’m definitely looking forward to getting back to work, I’ve really missed everyone especially the kids in the cast. I’m also looking forward to being able to go out to dinner, the cinema, theatre and generally seeing friends and family. I’m looking forward to life getting back to normal, but after what we’ve all been through, only God knows what kind of ‘normal’ that will be.

We'd like to thank Landi 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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