Tuesday, 7 July 2020

The Corona Diaries: Gleanne Purcell-Brown


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!

Gleanne Purcell-Brown was most recently in the UK tour of Curtains, covering the roles of Bambi and Jessica. Her other credits include Bare (The Old Finsbury Town Hall), Sleeping Beauty (Hackney Empire) & Spamalot (Mercury Theatre, Colchester & 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 in warm-up getting ready for our first show at the Leceister Haymarket Theatre with the wonderful cast of Curtains. I remember feeling very anxious as we weren’t sure what was happening with regards to our show that evening. Our show went ahead that evening but it was bittersweet as we all kind of knew that this was probably going to be our last one.

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

I’ve been getting involved with as many online dance, singing and acting classes and courses that I can, it’s been amazing how our community have come together to provide such a platform that we are able to still train as much as we can at home. I’ve also reignited my love for my instruments (I no longer have the excuse of not having enough time to practise), found my passion for Spanish again and have been really enjoying getting stuck into lots of books. Oh, and check out the Open University website as there’s so many free courses to dabble in (had a go at finance, definitely not my forte!) 

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 try to limit my time as much as possible on my phone (though it is so much harder now that everything is done online.) A few things I do to look after my mental state: 

I turn my notifications off at night so when I wake up, my instant reaction isn’t to check the notification but to get a drink and do some meditation or focused breathing before turning them on again.

When I’m eating or reading, I try to leave my phone in a separate room so I’m not constantly checking my phone or get sucked into scrolling for hours without realising.

Mute/unfollow people that aren’t in line with your energy 

Yoga and Meditation! I definitely recommend the Headspace app, they’ve recently offered it out for free for the unemployed so definitely claim that as there so many meditation courses, guided and unguided, sleep casts and so much more. 

If possible, try and be with nature as much as possible, whether that be going for a walk, bike ride, or if none of those things are nearby, maybe investing in buying some plants and greenifying your space. I find being among nature really helps my mental state.

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

Continue to create, inspire and be inspired, take online classes/workshops & support streaming shows by sharing and donating if financially possible.

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

Some of my favourite things I’ve discovered this lockdown and would recommend:
Books: Natives - Akala, Girl, Woman, Other – Bernardine Evaristo, Americanah – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and The Vagina Monologues – Eve Ensler. For TV/FILM: Pose – Netflix, Soon Gone: A Windrush Chronicles – BBC iPlayer, I May Destroy You – BBC and 13th – Netflix

Also check out the National Theatre, The Globe and The Royal Exchange as they are streaming some archives of their shows which are absolutely brilliant.

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

Zoom, Facetime and Whatsapp Video have been my absolute godsend during these times. Quizzes, virtual birthday parties, viewing parties, games, you name it - I’m there for it all!

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

I cannot wait to hug my family and friends in the flesh, and of course, hopefully be back on that stage. 

We'd like to thank Gleanne 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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