Monday, 20 July 2020

The Corona Diaries: Dianne Pilkington

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!

Dianne Pilkington was most recently seen in the original London cast of The Only Fools and Horses Musical at the Theatre Royal Haymarket. Her other credits include Aunt Lily in Whisper House (The Other Palace); Donna Sheridan in Mamma Mia! (Novello Theatre); Sophie De Palma in Master Class(Vaudeville Theatre); Amalia in She Loves Me (Minerva Theatre, Chichester); Pamela/Margaret/Annabella in The 39 Steps (Criterion Theatre); Glinda in Wicked (Apollo Victoria Theatre); Grizabella in Cats (National Tour); Belinda in The Far Pavilions (Shaftesbury Theatre); Mary in Tonight’s the Night (Victoria Palace); Belle in Disney's Beauty and the Beast (National Tour), Kim in the original cast of Boy George’s Taboo; the title role in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (Victoria Palace); Protestant Girl in The Beautiful Game (Cambridge Theatre); The Beggar Woman in Sweeney Todd (Bridewell Theatre); Marion in Tess (Savoy Theatre); understudied and played Fantine and Cosette in Les Miserables (Palace 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 at home, but I had only just left Only Fools And Horses. I was weirdly connected through all the WhatsApp chat, but not part of it! I was relieved for my friends to have a decision made, but sad for the shows.

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

I’m homeschooling a seven-year-old so that’s most of my time! I’m certainly not a teacher, I can tell you that. I have got an alarmingly productive veg garden now though!

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?

Every so often I delete the apps for 24 hours. There are a lot of important causes that I want to engage with, but, when it becomes overwhelming, a large step back helps.

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

There are some wonderful charities, and I would urge people to look at Acting For Others, which directly supports the people who make our industry. They are selling some awesome “The Show Must Go On” merchandise! Also please consider a small donation to the institutions who stream theatre for free.

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

So much Netflix! At the moment we are watching Little Fires Everywhere. I read a couple of Jane Fallon novels which are a great, engaging read. She came to see Only Fools and Horses and I’ve been meaning to check out her writing. I also feel so privileged to be able to watch the plays and musicals streamed by the NT and Bristol Old Vic. I miss so much when I’m working.

In these times of Social Distancing and isolation, how have you been trying to connect with Friends and Family? 

Lots and lots of Zoom. We had a Zoom birthday, a Zoom “we were meant to get married today”, Zoom reunions, the lot!

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

I look forward to hugging my Mum. And my son being able to hug his Grandma. I’m also desperate to get back in a rehearsal room! And to be part of a 14-hour tech rehearsal. I will never moan again that I’m tired!

We'd like to thank Dianne and all other performers who have given up their time to contribute to this feature.

For more information please visit GOV.UK and

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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