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!
Robbie McMillan most recently appeared in White Christmas at the Dominion Theatre. His other credits include Mr Mistoffelees in Cats (Kilworth House & UK Tour); Ensemble in Guys and Dolls (Theatre Marigny Paris); Ensemble in White Christmas (Leicester Curve); Joe in Flashdance (UK Tour); Ensemble in Chess (London Coliseum) and Ensemble in the Johannstrauss Gala (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?
Oh, what a fantastic day that was! I had just begun rehearsals for ‘The Boyfriend’; joining the cast from its recent success at the Menier Chocolate Factory as we were set to take the show to Toronto. We had been told on the previous Friday the 13th that the show was not to go ahead as Canada was shutting down its theatres and then sadly by Monday it was the United Kingdom that received the same fate. The production is stunning so I hope it is revived at some stage- Director Matt White and Associate Director/Choreographer Bill Deamer are just brilliant to work for. My initial reaction to the news was gin, and then my reaction after that was more gin.
Can you tell us anything productive you’ve been doing?
I flew back to Australia (yes, I am a bogan from Queensland and yes my impressions of Mr G are freakishly accurate) to be with my family during this time and I have been helping my Dad’s optometry business. From packaging and distributing spectacles to organising appointments for patients, I feel like I’m going to add “Optician” to my Spotlight CV when I’m back. I’ve also been choreographing loads and managed to start my own class “INDUSTRY JAZZ” every Sunday at 11AM on Instagram Live in association with online dance network, Magnetic Movement.
Whenever you log onto social media there is so much negativity circulating. How have you been trying to keep a positive mental attitude during these times?
I think social media at the moment is the worlds greatest paradox. It’s exciting yet also quite frightening. It’s informative yet potentially damaging. It’s reassuring yet at times very dishonest. For instance, anyone can create and post videos online so it’s really important to make sure our future college graduates/students are being exposed to the right classes so that when studios do open (and they will!) we won’t have to correct any bad habits learnt online.
To stay positive remember that there will be jobs and auditions to go back to at some stage. My advice is to get on that supporting leg, get those high notes perfected and get prepared!
With the Arts temporarily shut down, how would you advise people to continue to support the Arts industries?
There are so many fantastic theatre companies around the world streaming their productions for FREE! It’s ironic isn’t it the sector that receives the least economic support is the one offering its talent and hard work to the world for nothing in return. Classic artists. I’ve been watching some fantastic theatre so if you can afford it, make a donation here or there to your favourite theatre or theatre charity.
We have to remind ourselves that our industry is not only significant to the economic fabric of the UK but internationally it is paramount to the advancement of the civilised world. Imagine our world without Da Vinci, Mozart or Nureyev. Okay, stepping down off the soapbox.
Have you discovered anything that you’d like to recommend to our viewers?
Where do I begin? I’m an ex-professional ballet dancer so I’m bit of a bunhead at heart. I’ve been watching The New York City Ballet’s newly released Digital Spring Season recently, which I highly recommend. I love “The Body Coach” Joe Wicks for online fitness training- his classes are killer. My current guilty pleasure at the moment is “Kath & Kim”- an Australian comedy series on Netflix. You Brits may not get the humour but it’s worth it to laugh at bogan Aussie accents for half an hour.
In these times of Social Distancing and isolation, how have you been trying to connect with Friends and Family? Any fun quizzes or games?!
Well as I’m currently living with my parents and two of my siblings here in Australia, we see each other a lot! We organise themed food nights and FaceTime my brother into the party! I recently took part in an awesome RuPaul’s Drag Race Pub Quiz via Zoom with my mates back in England- complete with mimosas of course.
And finally, looking to the future, what are you most looking forward to when all of this is over?
That’s easy. A mimosa brunch with my favourite gaggle of gays and the feeling of a curtain lifting up for whatever show I do next. Now that people is the definition of stagey.
We’d like to thank Robbie and all other performers who have given up their time to contribute to this feature.
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.