Tuesday, 21 July 2020

The Corona Diaries: Sean Parkins

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!

Sean Parkins is currently in the London company of The Book of Mormon at the Prince of Wales Theatre. His other credits include C.C White in Dreamgirls (Savoy Theatre) in which he was also Resident Choreographer, Assistant Director, swing and understudied the role of Jimmy Early; Assistant Dance Captain/swing in The Book of Mormon (Prince of Wales); Dance Captain, swing and understudy Dr Dillamond in Wicked (Apollo Victoria Theatre); On The Town (ENO); Dick Whittington (Barbican); William in Mary Poppins (Prince Edward Theatre); Tribe Member in Hair (Gate Theatre); Mereb in Aida (Germany) and Fame (Aldwych Theatre). 

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’m currently a Swing/Dance Captain on The Book of Mormon in London and we were just about to commence warm-up when our company manager came to stage, along with numerous people from different departments, to give us an official closure. As a company, we were all quite aware of the critically fragile state our industry, as well as the world was in, so, I think we were expecting action to be enforced for health and safety reasons at some point in that week. 

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

Living alone, I’ve had so much time to focus on myself which, I’ve found to be super productive. It's very rare that we have this much time to channel our energy in a specific way. Self-care has meant I have time for a full-body yoga/workout session in the morning, which I’ve found brilliant for the body and soul.

I’ve also been teaching theatre school students from various colleges via Zoom, which has been truly awe-inspiring. Seeing students doing full out routines in their gardens, living rooms, garages and BEDROOMS with so much passion and drive for performing has given me a lot of hope for the future.

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?

Whilst the Covid-19 pandemic has shook the world, we’ve also been firsthand witnesses to incredibly de-stressing and important state of affairs like the Black Lives Matter, #metoo and Pride+ movements all over our social media platforms. These issues have given individuals a voice to express feelings of passion, joy, anger and hope. It can be super draining and upsetting to see the people you follow have maybe different opinions to yourself or to others, and if this isn’t what you look at those platforms for, the technology gods have given us an ingenious ’mute’ function - You don’t have to delete, block or report (unless necessary, of course), you can simple silence that specific persons notifications. I have been truly inspired by some incredible friends and allies over this time, but I’ve also definitely used the mute setting a few times for people that I’m not too interested in at this time. 

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

Over lockdown, the arts industries have continued to fill homes with theatrical performances, live events and gigs as well as standard daily programming to immerse the nation with positive healing through entertainment.

Supporting the arts can seem a slight burden, especially in this challenging financial time. But I cannot urge everyone enough to try their hardest to put, even £1 into arts funds; whether that be an individual artists PayPal accounts (vocalists/drag acts) or organisations that are streaming performances for us all to enjoy (Fleabag Live, National Theatre at home and Soho Theatre to name a few). Also with pubs and bars opening, a great way to help theatres stay afloat is taking yourself to theatre bars like The Union or Southwark Playhouse if you fancy a socially distanced drink with friends, perhaps.

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

I’ve watched some great documentaries - The Last Dance, Three Identical Strangers and The Imagineering Story have been interesting and inspiring watches.  Philip Pullmans Book of Dust series have been my literary obsessions over lockdown. I’ve also enjoyed a few podcasts like My Best Friends Journal (18+) and Tiny desk concerts (live music 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?! 

My friends and family have been an absolute Godsend during isolation. Zoom, Facetime and other social comms. apps have kept me fit, focused ad entertained. 

The cast of Book of Mormon have a scheduled weekly quiz which keeps me in touch with cast and company. Another group, my best Judy’s, have a movie challenge in which we have to recreate famous film imagery. Marco Polo app has me connected with friends overseas. And I am forever FaceTiming my friends to catch up on their weeks and annoy friends like Niall Sheehy with workout sessions or talks on current affairs.

This has been an incredibly stressful and trying time for us all and my family and closest friends have been the most supportive and loving people - It's all about support.

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

The buzz and kinetic energy on every theatre and shows first night back. Its gonna be WILD. I get goosebumps just thinking about it!

We'd like to thank Sean 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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