Friday, 3 July 2020

The Corona Diaries: Kelly Agbowu

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*Some information mentioned in this article may be out of date due to the progress of the current situation.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

Kelly Agbowu is currently in the London cast of Les Miserables at the Sondheim Theatre. Her other credits include Nurse Norma/cover Becky in Waitress: The Musical (Adelphi); Lion in The Wizard of Oz (Birmingham Rep); swing in The Book of Mormon (Prince of Wales); May in Baddies: The Musical (Unicorn); swing and cover Shenzi in The Lion King (UK/international tour); Sue, Caroller and soloist in Rent (Greenwich); Essie in Parade (Southwark Playhouse) and Townsperson in The Human Comedy (Young Vic).

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? 

For some strange reason, I got to the theatre really early and was just chilling in the dressing room. My other dressing room ladies also seemed to come in slightly earlier than usual and so we were all just discussing what had happened on Broadway and speculating what would happen with us when we were told that Warm-up was cancelled and to come on stage for a meeting. We knew in that second that was it. Once we were told we all gathered in the boys dressing room for a farewell drink and then I packed up some of my stuff from my room and went home. At that point like everyone, I didn’t know how long this would be for and so have left a lot of stuff at work including my contact lens! Hopefully I can get them at some point.

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

I have been learning sign language via an online course. It’s something I’ve always wanted to learn but never had the time and now I’ve got bags of free time so it’s been great. I just wanted to be able to have gained something out of this lockdown period so I didn’t feel like I had personally wasted it. I’ve also reconnected with my love of knitting.

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?

It’s been hard during this period because there were and still are days when I don’t want to do anything and then you look online and see everyone being really motivated and you feel rubbish about yourself, but to be honest I just give myself those days when I need them and try not to feel guilty about it and then other days I’m back on top form knocking the day out of the park. It’s peaks and valleys. You’ve got to look after your mind and body and be kind to yourself. I also deleted the social media apps from my phone for a few days when it was really tough and that was super helpful. I’d highly recommend that. 

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

Keep watch and donating as much as you can, keep writing to your local MP and tweeting and sign and share as many petitions as possible. Check out Theatre support fund. They are selling lots of awesome merch to raise money for the industry. Grab some while you can.

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

I spent the first few weeks of lockdown hooked on Jane the Virgin on Netflix’s. I’d never seen it before and my goodness I love it. I feel like I made a friend during the lockdown and often find myself wondering what Janes up to! There’s so many great things out at the moment – Anything on Disney +, Self Made, Floor is lava, 13th the list could go on and on. 

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

So I’m sure like many of us I’m super quizzed out now after 13 or more weeks of quizzes, however, they were great fun and I can honestly say I’ve learnt so many random facts, I’m chuffed. Although a lot of my quizzes have calmed down now I still have a family quiz every Sunday and there’s a different theme every week. Last week I was the host and so we done a Pride theme which was AWESOME.

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

I cannot wait to hug people. That feeling when you see a friend from afar and then you embrace them as you get closer. I took that for granted and I will never again. Also, get me to the theatre. I can’t wait to be sat in my seat waiting to watch a live show with my programme in my hand and ready to have my mind blown. We will be back! Theatre will return!

We'd like to thank Kelly 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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