Tuesday, 30 June 2020

The Corona Diaries: Luke McCall

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*Some information mentioned in this article may be out of date due to the progress of the current situation.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

Luke McCall is currently in the London company of Les Miserables at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre. His other credits include Feuilly/understudy Enjolras and Jean Valjean in Les Misérables (Queen’s); swing/understudy Phantom in The Phantom of the Opera (Her Majesty’s Theatre); Llew in Man of La Mancha (Coliseum) and Charles Lightoller in Titanic: The Musical (international tour). Luke is the youngest person ever to play both the roles of the Phantom and Jean Valjean in the West End.

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 in my dressing room at the Sondheim. There was speculation that something was happening, but we didn’t know what. We were told there would be no warm-up and that we had a full company meeting on stage. Once we found out the show wasn’t going ahead, we gathered in one of the dressing rooms and had a drink. Little did we know it would be our last one together for a long time. 

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

Luckily thanks to the outdoor exercise rule, I’ve been using the time to run as much as I can and improve my running times. I have also been trying to improve my instrument playing, piano and guitar mainly. And I’ve read so many books! We (the cast) also have 2 meetings a week where we do Yoga on a Thursday and HIIT on a Sunday via Zoom, so it’s lovely to catch up with everyone on a weekly basis!

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’ve actually been reducing my time on Social Media in order to be more productive. I have a time limit on my phone that shuts down the app once the limit is reached. Don’t get me wrong there are some days where I’ll do nothing, or be scrolling all day, and that is okay too. I don’t think we should beat ourselves up for things like that. However having a time limit stops me from procrastinating, and lets me be more productive physically and mentally. 

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

If you see any arts donation pages, please support them. Share. Donate. Do whatever you can to help. Lockdown has been hard, but can you imagine lockdown without Netflix, Disney+, Sky, Amazon Prime Video? Those are all a part of the arts industry, so anyone who thinks the arts aren’t important, try spending 3 months at home without those streaming platforms! Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to rely on government help, so all of the charities out there are to support those in need, if you can give anything, please do so.  

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

Lockdown has given me the opportunity to be able to watch more theatre believe it or not. The National Theatre have been streaming a lot of their NT Live shows and I’ve loved pretty much every single one. Also, Schitt’s Creek on Netflix is BRILLIANT. And Andrew Lloyd Webber has also been streaming shows for free on youtube! Keep an eye out for those too!

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 lucky, I came home to Wales before lockdown so I have been with my family here. I have been doing so many Zoom quizzes. We’ve now had 3 with the cast, and it’s so lush to see everyone. As I mentioned earlier, we’ve also been doing workouts and yoga together on a weekly basis so it’s lovely! Facetime and Zoom have been a blessing during lockdown!

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

Going back to work is the thing I’m looking forward to the most. I love my job and all of the people I work with, and being able to hug them and perform with them again is something I genuinely can’t wait to do!

We'd like to thank Luke 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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