Wednesday, 22 July 2020

The Corona Diaries: Kim Ismay



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!

Kim Ismay is currently in the London cast of Wicked at the Apollo Vicotria Theatre playing Madame Morrible, a role she previously played on the UK & Ireland Tour and UK/International Tour. Her other credits include Tanya in Mamma Mia! (Prince Edward, Prince of Wales and Novello Theatre); Lysette in The Silver Gym, Dotty Otley in Noises Off, Katisha in The Hot Mikado and Fiona in How The Other Half Loves (Queen’s Theatre, Hornchurch); Maxine in Stepping Out (Derby Playhouse); Baroness Bomburst in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Miss Dinsmore/Dora Bailey in Singin’ in the Rain, Flo Manero in Saturday Night Fever and Miss Bonnie in Acorn Antiques (UK tours); Joanna in Sunset Boulevard (Adelphi); May Belfort in Lautrec (Shaftesbury); Magenta in The Rocky Horror Show (The English Theatre Frankfurt) and Kiss Me, Kate, The Wizard of Oz and The Comedy of Errors (RSC).

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 actually on holiday in Lanzarote, where full lockdown had started on the Saturday night. I felt very remote and isolated and really wished I was with my Wicked family. To be honest, I wasn’t surprised, but I was shocked; the thought of everyone turning off their lights, closing their dressing room doors and having to walk away as the theatre locked behind them with no knowledge of when it would reopen was a unique and terrible thing. 

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

My cupboards love the lockdown me. I’m a terrible clutterer and hoarder and I’m very untidy so I’ve Marie Kondo-ed the hell out of my entire house. It was so good for my emotional state too, getting rid of things and having clear space. I’ve started Couch to 5K to get fit, and I’ve done some online charity fundraisers and mentoring/teaching. I record audiobooks too so I’ve been cracking on with those. 

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?

Like everyone, I’ve had some darker moods and for a while, my anxiety levels were off the charts. Meditation has been helpful (I like the Calm app and Michael Sealey) but so was deciding to stop obsessing over all the news channels. Now I take time daily to educate myself from reputable sources and that’s stopped me shouting at the TV all the time. I love social media but again, some has been quite upsetting and toxic so I’m really trying to filter those out. I’ve learned that some days you can be as productive as anything, and other days you just want to sit in your pj's and stare, and that’s fine. 

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

Watch as many online concerts and gigs as you can, especially those that donate to charities you love; read for education but also simply for pleasure; take classes offered by people you admire or want to learn from, and draw/sing/dance/write/play an instrument even if you think you’re no good! Who cares? Do things that inspire you and make you happy. 

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

I loved “Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine” by Gail Honeyman, and “Create or Hate” by Dan Norris is a revelation. My current reads are “Brit(ish)” by Afua Hirsch and some Margery Allingham short stories. I recommend rereading old favourites, it’s like a comforting hug! I’m also catching up with a massive list of series on Netflix, so pass the popcorn.

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

My sister lives in Scotland and we FaceTime all the time anyway, but I use FaceTime/WhatsApp video call more than I phone in lockdown. I need to see people’s faces as it makes me feel closer to them. I’ve done some hilarious quizzes on Zoom, and I have a couple of weekly virtual “drinks” with friends which bring me joy. My newly acquired “bubble” household is by the sea and comes complete with French bulldog, so whatever the weather, it’s bliss. 

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

I can’t wait to walk back through the Apollo Victoria Stage Door again and just go to work. The first time doing my makeup, putting the costume on and stepping on that stage again with the whole company will be a beautiful thing. 

We'd like to thank Kim 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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