Thursday, 18 June 2020

The Corona Diaries: Samara Casteallo



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*Some information mentioned in this article may be out of date due to the progress of the current situation.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

Samara Casteallo is currently appearing in the London production of Tina: The Tina Turner Musical at the Aldwych Theatre. Her other credits include Ensemble and cover Mummy Bear in Goldilocks & the Three Bears(The London Palladium); Covering Mrs Wormwood & Mrs Phelps in Matilda The Musical  (UK tour); the original Cast of Dreamgirls (Savoy Theatre), Cover Pearl in Starlight Express (Bochum, Germany); Little Inez in Hairspray (Leicester Curve) and Mother Goose (Hackney Empire). 

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?

We were about to do our dress run at ‘Tina Turner the Musical’ at the Aldwych theatre at 7pm. Whilst we were on our break and getting ready; we were already aware of a global pandemic coming forth; I was very unsure if we were going to open on the Tuesday. I was saddened to think that after 5 solid weeks of hard work we wasn’t going to make opening night. Some colleagues of mine were about to make their West-End debuts. There was excitement and worry in the building and then we had a call on the tannoy telling us to come down to the stage for a meeting. We knew what was to come, but for everyone’s health and safety and after the government announced that ‘everyone should avoid restaurants and theatres’, we were to follow instructions and leave the theatre, clear out what we had just unpacked. In tears, however only to hope that our show will manage to stay strong and re-open.

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

I’ve been doing my script/cover work, learning lines and going over choreography as I cover Tina Turner and Aline. I started to go for jogs to clear my mind the first few weeks, it managed to make me feel like I had a schedule. Especially after working 10-10 trying to put a show on, my body couldn’t just stop straight away. I manage to find a HIIT class at 12pm everyday my beautiful friend Annie Kitchen has on Instagram, that I would 100% recommend. I’m usually very active and pro-active, I tend to never stop so some days during, these weird times, I’d just meditate or take a few moments to stop, read and relax. I haven’t stopped moving and working since 2010, so this time is needed.

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?
The amazing cause and revolution that is now coming forth was so needed. We needed to stop, we needed to address many ways that the system has blinded us into thinking we were living life the “right” and justice way, when we clearly weren't for years. This year we thought that 2020 was a write-off, but it wasn’t. It’s time to reflect and communicate, learn and grow. We can become our truest self by acknowledging the way of life and making the world a greater place. We are ready for change.

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

There are many dance classes and workshops that have been on at the moment, so take your time to research and have a look at what’s around. It’s amazing they are free as well, but some of the classes have charities they are raising money for or simply for their own business, which I think is just as important. So if you can help, donate and fund, please do.

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

I would recommend a few documentaries on challenging stories on Netflix that will educate you on Black lives; ‘13th’ and ‘Now They see us’. This beautiful series on two Irish lovers blew me away as well on BBC I-player ‘Normal People’. A few books that will challenge your mind or simply take you on a journey is, ‘The Power of Now’ - Elkhart Tolle and ‘Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race’ - Reni Eddo-Lodge. Last but not least a beautiful romance novel by the lovely Colleen Hoover - ‘It Ends With Us’.

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’m such a social butterfly and I love a drink and a chat, so I grab a glass of wine some evenings and call my favourite people who have helped me grow. I’m living with family at the moment, so we’ve had a puzzle on the table every week and played many card games. If you haven’t learnt how to play Chess; now is the time.

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

I cant wait to see all my friends out having a social drink and re-connecting face to face. The day we open ‘Tina’, I’m sure there will be many tears! I also can’t wait to feel the change in everyone’s life. I really hope everyone’s way of thinking has changed for the better. I can't wait to enter the industry and feel the support that we have always needed.

We'd like to thank Samara 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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