Tuesday, 30 June 2020

The Corona Diaries: Sia Kiwa

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*Some information mentioned in this article may be out of date due to the progress of the current situation.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

Sia Kiwa most recently appeared in Tina: The Tina Turner Musical at the Aldwych Theatre Her other credits include Ensemble in The Book of Mormon (Prince of Wales Theatre); Myhrinne in Lysistrata (Watford Palace); Soul Girl in Jesus Christ Superstar (Arena Tour); Flashdance (Shaftsbury Theatre); Peaches in Hairspray (Shaftsbury Theatre); Elizabeth in Dirty Dancing (Aldwych Theatre); Nehebka in Aida (European Tour) and Ensemble in The Lion King (Lyceum 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? 

I was getting ready to go up to Manchester to start filming the next day which subsequently got cancelled. I was shocked, I’d not long left Tina the musical and the new cast was supposed to start on the Tuesday. I was gutted for all of my friends.

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

For me, I have 2 children and had just finished my maternity leave so it was a great opportunity to spend quality time with all the family at home and I thought also a good time to brush up on skills. I started learning and honing some accents. I’ve also been learning 3 languages Spanish, German and Dutch!

It sounds ambitious but I’d learnt some Spanish at school so wanted to continue learning, I worked in Germany for 1.5yrs so also wanted to perfect that and my fiancĂ©e’s brother lives in Holland and the language is a bit of a hybrid of English and German so I started that too although I’m starting to get confused now, but I’m still going with it. I’ve also done some fitness classes online there is so much about at the moment.

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?

Keeping positive during this time is so important a lot is going on with COVID, black lives matter and the uncertainty of work. I believe this is a time to be kind and to look after ourselves. So much is out of our control but the things which aren’t we can work on. Do the things we love that we normally can’t because of work. We are all going through this together but have different experiences every story matters. Maybe thinking about creating or writing work right now would be very therapeutic. Get outdoors, connect with old friends and family you don’t normally get the chance to talk to. Work on the things that will make you a better person. Fight for the things you believe in.
Educate yourselves. Personally, it has been on understanding more about non-binary people and my black history.

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

We can support the arts by watching anything you see online and donating. I’ve loved watching the national Theatre productions on YouTube. Also donating to art and actor charities like acting for others and actors benevolent fund, signing petitions to parliament and supporting your peers in their endeavours. If you have tickets for shows and you can afford to keep the ticket do so. Lastly, support your friends in the arts if they are struggling, we are all in this together!

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

I’m currently and have been watching Snow Piercer, Ozark, After Life, Dear White People and 13th on Netflix. I’m trying to read ‘Children of Virtue and Vengeance’ which is a sequel to ‘Children of blood and bone’ by Tomi Adeyemi which I loved and and ‘natives’ by Akala.

Also papatango.co.uk has some monologues that have been filmed during lockdown there are some great stories on there.

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 connected with a lot of my old casts and had lots of themed parties and birthdays. I’ve steered away from quizzes because I’ve found I’m too competitive and I need to be positive during this time!

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

I’m most looking forward to seeing and hugging my friends and family again. Having the freedom we have lost of going anywhere and not always having to Queue. Going on holiday and last but by no means least, working! 

We'd like to thank Sia 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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