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!
Will Haswell was most recently seen in the original cast of Back to the Future the Musical at the Manchester Opera House. His other credits include Johnny Casino & Cover Danny Zuko in Grease (UK Tour); Ensemble in Sweet Charity (Donmar Warehouse); Ensemble in The Book of Mormon (Prince of Wales Theatre); Lewis and Cover Joe Casey in Our House (UK Tour); Featured Ensemble in The Braille Legacy (Charing Cross Theatre) Joe Pesci and Cover Frankie Valli in Jersey Boys (Piccadilly Theatre); Pinocchio in Shrek (UK Tour); Ensemble in Anything Goes(Kilworth House); Ensemble and Cover Pepper in Mamma Mia (Prince of Wales and Novello Theatre) and Ensemble in 42st Street Gala (London Palladium).
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 in London at home having driven back from Manchester as I was performing in Back to the Future the Musical. I initially thought that it wouldn’t be that long until we would return, however, we were slightly concerned as we were only on for a limited run and we had all worked so hard to get the show-up and running and it was such a wonderful company to be a part of. We all didn’t really get a chance to say goodbye to each other so it was a bit gutting the thought of not returning to all be together again.
Can you tell us anything productive you’ve been doing?
I’ve luckily been hired as a delivery driver for Sainsbury’s so I’m currently driving around South East London delivering people there shopping! It’s really lovely being able to help out a bit and for some people it’s their only chance to have a little conversation, so it’s really great to be able to try and put a smile on somebody’s face by having a chat for a few minutes.
I’ve also been taking part in a few online fitness classes. Especially ‘Bobby’s Bakery’ getting that Glaze on every day. @Bobalus classes have been brilliant and he’s an absolute gent.
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?
I’ve been incredibly lucky to be able to spend the lockdown period with my better half Fran Dee. We’re both performers and have been keeping each other’s spirits lifted by going out for walks, and making lovely dinners and watching Box sets, films. She really has been amazing at just keeping my head clear. Also facetiming friends and family has been brilliant. Staying connected to people has been so wonderful and it just makes everything feel so much better.
With the Arts temporarily shut down, how would you advise people to continue to support the Arts industries?
In the last few days, the care package for the Arts was announced. I just want to say thank you to anyone and everyone who helped make this happen. People talking and donating and sharing things all about the Arts has been amazing and the togetherness that we have as a community is something that is truly amazing.
Have you discovered anything that you’d like to recommend to our viewers?
At the beginning of lockdown, Fran and I watched all of the Marvel films in order from start to finish which was awesome and I’d recommend that. Also if you haven’t watched ‘Sitting in Limbo’, you have to. It’s truly a horrendous story that should be told and something that I think everybody should watch right now as it is so important to keep educating ourselves. We also watched ‘The Last Dance’, the documentary about Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. It’s one of the most incredible documentaries I’ve ever watched and whether you enjoy Sport or not, it’s incredible and you will be hooked.
In these times of Social Distancing and isolation, how have you been trying to connect with Friends and Family?
We’ve done a fair few quizzes for friends and family which has been loads of fun. We come up with rounds and different questions and it really keeps your brain ticking over. Also taking part in our fair share of quizzes to which has been awesome. We’ve won a couple as well, however, if I was in a team on my own I don’t think I would of done as well as we have done!
And finally, looking to the future, what are you most looking forward to when all of this is over?
When this is all over I’m so excited to be able to meet up with friends properly and not just on a screen. It’s been so difficult not being able to just meet a friend for a coffee or a catch-up or just being able to give someone else a hug. I also can’t wait to get back into a Theatre. That first night of any show is going to be incredible and I can’t wait to watch something and cheer and laugh and cry again at wonderful performances on a stage.
We’d like to thank Will 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.