Monday, 1 June 2020

The Corona Diaries: Michael Afemaré



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!

Michael Afemaré most recently appeared in Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs at the Manchester Opera House). His other credits include On-Stage Swing in Flashdance (Korean Tour); Assistant Dance Captain/Swing in Dreamgirls (Savoy Theatre – Original London Cast) and Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs (Hull New 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? 

Honestly, I felt a massive wave of anxiety. I had just taught, what effectively became, my last spin class at Boom Cycle. They were also forced to close their doors, following government advice. The honest truth is that my initial shock reaction can’t compare to the fear of the unknown. I was scared. I’m still scared. The performing industry feels like home to so many people so the fear of that being taken away, for an undeterminable amount of time, seems terrifying. I was meant to be appearing in Evita at the Barbican Centre, so to have that pulled from under me, was also really disappointing. But I couldn’t focus on that, because as we all know, the magnitude of the situation is so much bigger than just one production.

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

I have had to try really hard to curb my online spending, because I have found myself passing time online shopping. Luckily I haven’t broken the bank, or ordered anything outrageous (Pay no attention to the swimming pool in the back garden). That being said I have really tried to keep my physical fitness as high as possible. Its been so great to see so many of my fellow performers and personal trainers offering up their time to share their talents and classes online for everyone to enjoy. I have also been using my green fingers to help renovate the back garden, and have donned my Tom & Jerry apron whilst baking up a storm. Banana bread, anyone?

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 think particularly at a time like this, where everyone has so much time on their hands, it can be really easy to become absorbed by what you see in social media. Realistically, everyone posts a satirical version of real life. Nobody needs to be comparing his or her current situations, to an ocean of perfectly chiselled abs or perfectly blended make-up looks. I’ve tried to spend less time scrolling, and more time enjoying the glorious weather we’ve been having. Who knew that taking a long walk through the wetlands and taking pictures of swans and geese, could make you so happy?

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

I think whatever donations people are able to make, would make a huge difference in the survival of the industries. Take the Old Vic for example: they were urging people to purchase tickets that are redeemable against future performances. It might not seem like much, but it will at least keep some money coming in. Equally, people who had tickets booked for performance dates that have been cancelled, rebooking for a future date, rather than refunding your ticket, would also really help. I can’t thank producers enough for sharing shows online, as it really helps to keep the magic of theatre alive, at such an uncertain time.

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

I cannot believe that I hadn’t watched the Marvel movies, apart from Black Panther, before this Coronacation period. I’ve spent uncountable hours watching all the movies in chronological order and would definitely recommend everyone else to do the same!

In these times of Social Distancing and isolation, how have you been trying to connect with Friends and Family? Any fun quizzes or games?! 

Zoom Quizzes, Zoom Bingo, Zoom Brunch, Zoom Cocktail Hour, Zoom Cooking Classes, Basically, Zoom has been the best friends that nobody realised we needed but has been so beneficial through this period. Zoom has literally helped make being so far away from friends and family, seem manageable.

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

Hugging my loved ones! Its that cliché thing of you never realise how much you appreciate something, until its gone. I fell like I’m going to be hugging strangers on the street, simply because I will be able to. Plus, I’ve got a heap of new clothes that can’t wait for their debut!

We'd like to thank Michael 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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