Monday, 1 June 2020

The Corona Diaries: Ria Jones


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*Some information mentioned in this article may be out of date due to the progress of the current situation.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

Ria Jones was most recently seen playing Mama Rose in Gypsy at the Royal Exchange in Manchester. Her other credits include Miss Adelaide in Guys and Dolls (Théâtre Marigny); Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard (UK Tour); Dorothy Brock in 42nd Street (Leicester Curve & Théâtre du Châtelet); standby Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard (London Coliseum); Alexandra Spoffard in The Witches of Eastwick (UK Tour); Liz Imbrie in High Society (Shaftesbury Theatre & UK Tour); Reno Sweeney in Anything Goes (UK Tour); Eva Peron in Evita (Manchester Opera House); Svetlana & Florence in Chess (Prince Edward Theatre); Grizabella in Cats (New London Theatre) and Fantine in Les Miserables (Palace Theatre & UK Tour).

Photo credit: Mark Bruce 

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 still in London. At first I was relieved as I thought it was the most sensible and safest option seeing on the news the devastation in Italy. Then the sadness of it all crept in and just the fear of the unknown road ahead.

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

I certainly need to join some fitness classes! I’ve enjoyed learning all about Zoom. I do a weekly themed quiz with a group of friends on mainly Musical theatre trivia. I’ve recorded a small section for the Joseph streamed concert and a couple of Q&A‘S. I’m also thinking I might do an at-home concert when I get back to London.

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? 

It’s so hard to avoid the negative things on social media at times and sometimes I can’t help but respond, I like a debate. But not when it turns personal or nasty. People just goading for the sake of it. I try to remain positive by listening to uplifting music and watching favourite programmes and films.

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

To get behind us with petitions to keep art and culture alive in this country, support online concerts and the wonderful charity Acting For Others. I’ve got my “The Show Must Go On” T-shirt. I love it!

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

I love Schitt's Creek, Killing Eve and thoroughly enjoyed Normal People. I’m re-watching some favourite films of mine, like Lion and The Blind Side, I’m a big film buff. Sometimes I can watch four or five in a day. My mum and I watched the box sets of That’s Entertainment part one and two recently, which I can highly recommend.

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

Yes, as I said before I’m really loving the Zoom quizzes I do every week. It really is a highlight for me. So much so, I think we will continue with them from now on even when things do return to normal. Tomorrow’s theme is Movies. I’m just waiting for my costume to arrive in the post! 

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

The biggest showbiz party I can muster up at my house for all my friends who’ve all helped me and each other get through this surreal time!

We'd like to thank Ria 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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