Tuesday, 21 July 2020

The Corona Diaries: Emma Hatton

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!

Emma Hatton's credits include Grizabella in Cats (Kilworth House); Fantine in Les Miserables in Concert (Milton Morrissey); Vocalist in Post Modern Jukebox (International Tour); Maisey in The Distance You Have Come (Cockpit Theatre); Eva Peron in Evita (Phoenix Theatre); Eva Peron in Evita (UK and International tour); Elphaba in Wicked (Apollo Victoria), 1st cover Scaramouche/Meatloaf in We Will Rock You (Dominion Theatre), Donna in Dreamboats & Petticoats (UK tour), Fairy Godmother in Cinderella(Harlequin Theatre), Vanessa in Heaven Sent (New Wimbledon Studio), Twyla in When Midnight Strikes (Finborough Theatre), Daphne in Darling Of The Day (National Portrait Gallery).

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 self-isolating as I began experiencing symptoms on the Saturday prior. I don’t think it really sank in for me, initially. I had seen the news of Broadway going dark not long before and so, I suppose a part of me knew that it wouldn’t be long before the same happened here. The emotional impact took a while to set in. I guess because I’m not currently in a show, it didn’t hit me as hard at the time but my heart just went out to all of my friends currently working on a show. We all know how extreme a situation must be for a show to cancel just one nights’ performance and the reality of the magnitude of this gradually dawned on me and it still hurts my heart to think of all the theatres that are empty and quiet right now.
Can you tell us anything productive you’ve been doing?

I think, like a lot of people, I had so many ideas of how I was going to put this time to good use; brush up my piano and guitar skills, Marie Kondo my house, write my album (if my management are reading this, don’t worry, I am still working on that!) the list goes on! But I soon realised that I needed to take the pressure off myself. 

I think, after so many years of moving at such a fast pace, my body and my mind just needed to stop and process what was happening. I read somewhere that ‘This is a crisis, not a sabbatical’ and it really resonated with me when I was giving myself a hard time about not being productive enough. I hibernated for a while and just had to focus on getting through each day as best I could. I tried to limit my news consumption and spent a lot of time on FaceTime with my family and friends. I’ve always been a bit of an introvert so I was happy to spend my time cuddled up with my cat, reading, listening to music, exercising when I felt up to it and just recharge. Once I felt like I’d got my head around things a little more, I was lucky enough to be asked to join Post Modern Jukebox for one of their online concerts which was the first one I’d done and it was surreal but such an amazing experience.

I’m always so amazed and impressed at how some people are able to be so innovative and entrepreneurial during difficult times! I’ve now begun to offer some online teaching and have been collaborating on some lovely charity music projects and doing some Q and A’s and concerts for choirs and Amateur Dramatic societies. It feels lovely to give back in a way that I may not have been able to do prior to the pandemic. As this has gone on much longer than we thought, we’re all having to be more resourceful and I’ve been doing a lot of session singing projects from home so my fear of Garageband had to be overcome so there have been some silver linings! Plus, the DIY checklist has gradually been going down!

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?

I have a love/hate relationship with social media. I think it is so wonderful to have platforms for connection, particularly during such uncertain times, but I do think it has the potential to cause as many problems as it solves. I have, over the past few years, tried really hard to limit my usage and when I do use it, to do so primarily for my work. It can be addictive and triggering at the best of times and with the current situation, taking real care of our mental health has never been more important! We are all going to experience and handle this situation differently and the right approach for me, personally, has been to heavily reduce the amount of time I spend on social media and to be very selective about the people and accounts that I follow.

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

There are so many wonderful ways in which we can still support the Arts, write to your MPs as there is still so much work to be done, Support your friends, peers and colleagues with their amazing online ventures, sign petitions, donate to the many charities out there (if you are able) and you can watch so much amazing content from places such as The National Theatre on Youtube and again, if you can, donate to help these venues and organisations stay afloat. 

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

I recently read ‘ Where the Crawdads Sing’ which was one of the most beautiful books I have read in years. The Ella Fitzgerald documentary on the BBC was wonderful and touches on one of my favourite stories about the friendship between Marilyn Monroe and Ella Fitzgerald as Marilyn fought for Ella’s right to perform as a black woman at ‘Mocambo’. ‘Sitting in Limbo’ on the BBC which tells the true story of the life of Anthony Bryan during the Windrush scandal. ‘I May Destroy You’ written by and starring Michaela Coel. ‘The Hang’ Gregory Porter’s podcast.

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’ve never spent so much time on FaceTime. I don’t live near any of my family so I’ve been so grateful that I can check in with them daily and see that they’re all safe and doing well, My birthday was early on in lockdown before everyone was fed up with Zoom and it was bedlam! We had about 40 people in tiny squares all a bit merry and trying to talk over each other. It was a birthday I’ll never forget though!

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

Live gigs and shows, both watching and performing them, getting in the studio with my band, hugs, and hopefully noticing that people are more grateful for the little things and the pace of life staying just that little bit slower than it was before lockdown.

We'd like to thank Emma 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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