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!
Niall Sheehy was most recently seen playing the Prince in Cinderella on tour around Ireland. His other credits include Ensemble in Les Miserables: The All-Star staged Concert (Gielgud Theatre); Frederick Barrett in Titanic the Musical (Charing Cross Theatre, UK Tour & International Tour); Pure Imagination (St James); cover Chris in Miss Saigon (Prince Edward Theatre); cover Enjolras in Les Misérables (Queens Theatre); Cover Lancelot, Galahad & Robin in Spamalot (UK tour); Cover Fiyero in Wicked (Apollo Victoria Theatre); Anglo: The Musical (Bord Gáis, Dublin); The Beauty Queen Of Leenane (International Theatre, Frankfurt); The Route To Happiness (Landor) and Carson/Peter in A Man of No Importance (Union & Arts 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 had actually just moved house on the Sunday and I was unpacking and trying to sort everything out. If I’m being honest, I thought it was a good idea and was glad it was happening, but I never thought it would go on as long as it has, but having said that I also never expected to see the fatality numbers we have seen, either, so I can’t solely focus on the effect on our industry and ignore the effect the pandemic has had on other people’s lives.
Can you tell us anything productive you’ve been doing?
I have actually kept myself pretty busy. I bought Jamie Oliver’s “5 Ingredients” cookbook and have been shamefully realising, at the age of 39, how easy it is to cook certain delicious meals. I had also taken up CrossFit just before the lockdown, At Sleven Fitness in Vauxhall (although they have since disaffiliated from Crossfit due to comments made regarding the BLM movement, which was a positive response). Sleven has been running daily and weekly tasks and workouts, which have really helped to keep me sane during the lockdown, as well as keep me in some sort of decent shape. I have also been trying to teach myself how to play the guitar, but the less you ask me about my progress there, the better!
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?
The lockdown has really pushed us, mentally, more than anything and to be honest, there is no ideal way to handle it, as we are all very different in how we approach obstacles in life. I’ve been taking time to process a lot of things in my personal life, which I haven’t taken the time to process up until now, so in some ways, the lockdown has actually been quite helpful for me.
In general, though, I have tried to step away from Social media a bit more than usual, as I think there is always a tendency to compare ourselves to others, and during these tough times, that tendency is magnified and I believe that has been a real factor in the struggles some people have been experiencing. Now is not the time to be worrying about followers and social media presence.
Aside from that, I have had regular chats with my family and friends, none more so than my best friend, Sean Parkins. We have been annoying each other every single day on FaceTime, but also discussing the issues we have been facing. I can’t thank him enough for how good it has been to have him there to chat to over these past few months (God, has it really been that long?).
With the Arts temporarily shut down, how would you advise people to continue to support the Arts industries?
Now that pubs are reopening, and so many people feel compelled to get out for some social interaction, I would certainly ask people to choose theatre bars as their social hub. There may not be any shows to see, but the money made on the bar at places like Southwark Playhouse, Charing Cross Theatre, The Union Theatre etc., will really help to keep these venues open. That being said, I am still choosing to remain at home for the time being. Apart from that, we would just ask people to re-post the appeals that the arts industry has made to be heard and supported by this current government, and I would certainly compel fans of the arts to consider different political parties agendas when re-election comes around again.
Have you discovered anything that you’d like to recommend to our viewers?
I’m not sure if I have “discovered” anything particularly ground-breaking, but I have been reading a lot and watching some great movies/tv shows. Dennis Lehane has written some fantastic crime thrillers and I have re-read a lot of his work during the lockdown and enjoyed them all over again. I also wept like a baby as I watched the final season of “Schitt’s Creek”, and would recommend that series to anyone. Apart from that, I found this little app called “Instagram”, which I think is going to be really popular!
And finally, looking to the future, what are you most looking forward to when all of this is over?
A job! No, I don’t have anything specific I’m looking forward to, as we don’t know what this “New Normal” will look like yet, but I certainly look forward to seeing my family and friends again, in person. Getting back to work is definitely a massive driving force in my mind, though – it will be great to feel like an actor again and I definitely wouldn’t say no to a date!
We’d like to thank Niall 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.