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!
Jacqui Sanchez was most recently seen as Cynthia in the UK touring production of Priscilla Queen of the Desert. Her other credits include The King and I (London Palladium/UK and Ireland Tour), Babe the Sheep Pig (Polka Children’s Theatre and UK Tour), 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Catford Broadway Studio Theatre), Shrek The Musical (Original London Cast, Theatre Royal Drury Lane and UK Tour), Avenue Q (Noël Coward, Wyndhams and Seoul, South Korea), Miss Saigon (UK tour and Tam tour), Grease (Scandinavian tour), Aladdin (Mayflower, Southampton and Hackney Empire), and Hair (English Theatre, Frankfurt).
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?
We had just finished our new venue tech rehearsal for the Priscilla tour in Woking and were about to open that evening which is always a bit of a stressful day for everyone to get everything done in time. Personally, I was really looking forward to being back near home for the week and having friends coming to see the show. We had obviously heard about theatres shutting down across the world over the week previous and were already quietly nervous as we were supposed to be heading out on a European tour after we had finished the UK and Ireland leg. Everyone was so nervous at one point I suggested we have a ‘Gray’s Anatomy’-style ‘dance it out’ in the dressing room corridor (like Meredith and Cristina do in the early series), much to the bemusement (and probably the annoyance) of the in-house and touring tech staff. I think it did the trick though, it seemed to cheer up everyone who wanted to take part (including myself) and get rid of some of the nervous energy. At the quarter we were then called to the stage and told that we were to stop performances with immediate effect until further notice. I remember looking around at the circle we formed, at all the people who had worked so hard to get the show in and up on time and just feeling a bit numb – like the rug had been pulled out from under us but still having the hope that we would be back sooner rather than later.
Can you tell us anything productive you’ve been doing?
Early on I took part in a socially distant video dance piece by Chris Whittaker for an online concert called All the Web’s a Stage in aid of Theatre Together (@TheatreTogether on twitter and @theatre.together on Instagram) – it was so lovely to dance his choreography and feel these old bones breathe! Also, I’ve been doing Yoga with my best friend almost every day and have just introduced her to Pilates. She, in turn, has introduced me to Couch to 5k – got to say I was never much of a running fan, but now I find I crave it.
I’ve also been a bit of a fiend on the online courses. Looking for other ways to create an income – coding, proofreading, transcription. I’ve also been starting to create a mentorship programme with a friend I worked with last year – I can’t really give too many details about it yet as we’re still discussing how we can deliver it effectively, but needless to say, watch this space!
Even though this all seems a lot to be getting on with, I’ve also given myself the space and permission to rest and not be productive if I don’t have the mental capacity, to not put pressure on or compare myself to anyone else’s productivity and to take things one day at a time.
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?
Having a social media-free day whenever I get overwhelmed really helps and I keep having to remind myself out loud not to read the comments on posts! With everything going on in the world politically and with the industry right now it’s really easy to have old wounds open up and painful personal experiences come to the surface so being able to go for a walk outside to connect with nature and/or talking to a friend away from social media is always invaluable. Also, watching comedy is always a game-changer for me, laughter can cure a multitude of ills.
With the Arts temporarily shut down, how would you advise people to continue to support the Arts industries?
Support the stuff that isn’t free if you can and if you don’t have the funds, share ways to support it. Awareness is important.
Have you discovered anything that you’d like to recommend to our viewers?
I’ve recently started listening to several podcasts on my walks. My current favourites are: Fearne Cotton’s “Happy Place”, Nigel Ng’s “Rice to Meet You” – which talks about East Asian and British East Asian Culture with comedy, and also Russell Brand’s “Under the Skin” which is hugely fascinating. My friends James and Rosie Pearson have also set up a wonderful YouTube channel called Collective Creative Initiative which is keeping my showbiz knowledge expanding.
In these times of Social Distancing and isolation, how have you been trying to connect with Friends and Family?
My best friend and I try to speak most days alongside the Yoga and Pilates over video chat as I mentioned before and another friend has set up a regular zoom date which she has kindly invited me to every week. Sometimes we have games and there have been some hilarious rounds, I did steal a few of her ideas for a Zoom quiz a few weeks back. Backwards music rounds are my current favourite!
And finally, looking to the future, what are you most looking forward to when all of this is over?
I’m really looking forward to being able to travel again, I was really fortunate to have spent a lot of time travelling with work in the past year and it’s made my feet a bit itchy, getting back on stage of course, and giving my friends and family a massive hug – sometimes it’s just the simple things that you look forward to the most.
We’d like to thank Jacqui 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.