Saturday, 13 June 2020

The Corona Diaries: T'Shan Williams



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!

T'Shan Williams was most recently seen playing the role of Celie in The Color Purple at the Leicester Curve and the Birmingham Hippodrome. Her other credits include Heather Duke in Heathers (The Other Palace & Theatre Royal Haymarket); Radio 1 in Caroline, or Change (Hampstead Theatre); Understudy Sarah Brown in Guys and Dolls (Royal Exchange Manchester); Queen in The Life (Southwark Playhouse); The Book of Mormon (Prince of Wales Theatre); Sta Sister in The Blues Brothers (Arts Theatre) and understudy Lorraine in Love Me Tender (UK Tour). 

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 at home, anticipating the blackout after Broadway's announcement. Although it still came as a massive shock. We all were celebrating the new year two months before that, and the Monday prior I was celebrating my birthday with my friends in a bar. It felt like someone was going to jump out the TV and say "Only kidding!" 

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

I love yoga, I do that a couple times a week. I found after week 3 in lockdown I needed something new, so I started jogging and skipping- and it may sound like light work but for someone that's not a fitness fanatic, it's been a challenge that I'm proud of accomplishing every time I do it. I've been writing songs which is one of my favourite things to do. I'm also a massive foodie and I've been using this time to broaden my cooking skills!

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?

I generally try and be mindful of how much negative and traumatic information I consume anyway but especially now more than normal. The internets full of opinions. And we've all seen how the media can be damaging to individuals.

To protect my energy and mental health sometimes I simply have to log out and put my phone down. And that can be really hard to do. But I love music, so I'll listen to an album or I'll sing, or pick up a book I haven't finished Or binge-watch a series! 

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

'The last dance' on Netflix! I still can't stop thinking about it. A docuseries about the greatest NBA basketball player of his time, Michael Jordan. It's about his showmanship, his work ethic, passion, the teammates he elevated, the coaches that elevated him. The rises and the falls and I think we can all learn something from that series. 

Also in light of everything surrounding the recent passing of George Floyd, the black lives matter movement and racism within our society, It's opening up a lot of conversations that need to be had, and a long time coming so I'd also recommend these books and implore everyone to give them a read. Why I'm no longer talking to white people about race- Reni Eddo-Lodge, Me and white supremacy- Layla C Saad, White fragility- Robin DiAngelo and Black and British: A Forgotten History- David Olusoga. 

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

This is one of the things I'll take away from this process and say I've really enjoyed- and that's the amount of quality time, communication and games I've had with my family and friends on a weekly basis, via zoom chats, quizzes or phone calls. It's been so wonderful to connect regularly with my loved ones and I hope when this is over we don't let work get in the way, and make the time to keep connecting through our busy schedules. 

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

I mean what aren't I looking forward to?! I cannot wait to hug my Nan, to go for a decent coffee, to go into central London and walk around the city, to watch a friend in a show, to be opening in a show, to host a dinner party at my house and I cannot wait to start planning my wedding.

We'd like to thank T'Shan 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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