Wednesday, 1 July 2020

The Corona Diaries: Hannah Ducharme


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*Some information mentioned in this article may be out of date due to the progress of the current situation.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

Hannah Ducharme is currently in the West End premiere of Pretty Woman in the Ensemble and covering the role of Kit De Luca. Her other credits include Scaramouche in We Will Rock You (Royal Caribbean); First Cover Sloane in Bat Out of Hell (Dominion Theatre); Spirit of the Dance (International Tour) and The Rat Pack, Dancing Queen & Broadway! (US & European Tours). 

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 will start by saying that the week before this statement there had been a different announcement which 'advised strongly' the cease of going to theatres, restaurants and entertainment venues in general. I watched this live on my phone as I was making my way into the Piccadilly Theatre. This frightened me as there was little assurance that we as an industry would be taken care of.

When I got into the theatre, the dressing room and the warmup on stage were a buzz of what had been stated on the news. By the end of the warm-up, we were told to stay back and were told that following the gov announcement, we were not going ahead with the performance and would close for the foreseeable future. 

I was due to go on for my cover role for the first time the following week, so missed the chance to perform in front of a live audience. Luckily, just the week before was my first cover run, which was fantastic. I went home, had a little cry and a very big glass of wine and tried to poise myself for the coming weeks.

I always try to air on the side of positivity, so initially I really didn't think that it was going to be too bad. I tried to convince myself that it would last a couple of weeks, I didn't think it would continue on to this extent.

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

Well this one is easy! I am very lucky to live with a very close friend, Will Joy - my MD from We Will Rock You - and early on, we decided to start a daily Livestream, performing a song-of-the-night on Facebook and YouTube. Be it Musical Theatre, Country, Jazz, Pop, Disney or even Fisney! (fake Disney) It's been fantastic fun for us. 

We've created a steady following for which we are very grateful and quite proud of. Since we started, we've kept it live (warts and all), so if I crack or if Will skips a key, our watchers hear all of it.

We're trying to be a fun addition to peoples day, but also relatable to what's happening around us. We have also put together a mini-concert already and are planning for our second, hoping to include our neighbours by taking it to the streets. All of our songs are posted onto our Facebook and YouTube pages, so our listeners can go back and revisit their favourites whenever they want!

On top of that, I have become one with my kitchen. I love creating and baking but haven't always had time, it's been great to discover new recipes and trying new things for my dairy-free Husbug. 

Also, I started making masks. I started with a really complicated one which took me a whole day ( I don't have a sewing machine so it was all done by hand ) Then I found an easier pattern and have been making them pretty regularly for my family and friends when they need them.

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?

Quite honestly by staying true to myself and to the people whom I come in contact with. I have always said that it's important to take stock in your feelings and be kind and support those who are struggling, I have seen A LOT of good nature come out in this situation, a lot more patience and care for one another. 

I have tried to shut off a little bit, however, I think it's important to remain abreast of what's going on around the world by not only listening but engaging in sometimes difficult conversations to better educate myself and those around me.

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

BE INFORMED. Keep up to date on petitions that will make a difference to the arts and how well we are supported by our government. Write to your council member or member of parliament and ask them what they are doing to ensure a safe return.
In the meantime please keep supporting all of the amazing content that's being put out on a daily basis, there's so much talent out there and just because the theatres are shut it doesn't mean that it's not being put to good use. Be it live music, online classes, concerts, workout classes, it's out there! Find it, like it, love it, share it! 

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

Yikes, well I am I a huge murder mystery/forensic files fan so anything like that, rest assured I have watched it, listened to it or read it! Apart from that, I have taken a few work out live streams online and just, in general, I'm enjoying watching all my creative friends. Also being outside is a huge thing for me, I'm very lucky to live near a huge park so I go for a looooooong walk with my husband every day. 

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

Oh my goodness! Well, My fabulous Pretty Woman cast have been 'Zoom'ing once a week with some kind of fun quiz or bingo which has kept spirits up and also one of my casts from my time on Cruise ships have been meeting once a week to just catch up which has been a wonderful way to reconnect with friends from around the world. With my mum and sister, I have been doing a Facetime chat twice a day, Its been a lovely way to not only keep in touch but to see their faces. 

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

Actually seeing everyone and being able to hug them! Also just being able to be back on stage with my wonderful cast. We had really only just started our journey together and I know that we have so much more to give!

We'd like to thank Hannah 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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