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!
Jed Berry was most recently seen in the UK tour of The Book of Mormon and will be performing in Fanny and Stella at the Garden Theatre, Eagle London. His other credits include Angel in the London cast of Kinky Boots at the Adelphi Theatre; The Sound of Music (UK Tour); Michael in Peter Pan: A Musical Adventure (West Yorkshire Playhouse) and The Wizard of Oz (West Yorkshire Playhouse).
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 actually at my digs, in bed poorly! My phone started buzzing as my castmates gave me the heads up. It wasn’t a complete surprise as Broadway had already shut down and we all anticipated a UK shutdown was in the not-too-distant future. But when it was official, it suddenly felt so surreal! We devote our lives to this industry, and for it to suddenly just stop felt completely jarring. My colleague and dear friend Jemal got back to the digs and we spent a good ten minutes hysterically laughing in incredulity.
Can you tell us anything productive you’ve been doing?
I’ve actually been working away this lockdown on an exciting online cabaret! Myself and Jerry Mitchell have produced a charity cabaret that features Angels from lockdown all over the world. We saw that people needed their spirits lifting. We saw that people in our own industry needed support. We listened and learned about the horrendous racial oppressions that our Black colleagues face. So we used our platform. We’ve created a really fun cabaret raising money for Acting for Others, Black Ticket Project, Broadway Advocacy Coalition and Broadway Cares. These organisations do such amazing work and we wanted to find a fun way to support and promote these charities. It’s going to be camp and full of fun little surprises! The Angels have really stepped up and created some amazing acts. It’s airing on 26th Sunday at 9pm on jedberry.com if anyone fancies a watch and a smile!
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?
Social media has this odd power of simultaneously being both your best friend and your worst enemy. I genuinely celebrate social media, especially at a time like this, where it keeps us connected and spreading smiles. I do, however, have time limits on each of my social media apps. It’s so easy to fall down a timeline hole. I’ve found it so important to stay connected, but take time for myself, away from a screen for the majority of the day; giving my pals a call on the phone instead, or taking myself for a walk. I am, however, super grateful for all the amazing content we’ve witnessed online throughout lockdown! Turn Up and Hamilton have been recent highlights.
With the Arts temporarily shut down, how would you advise people to continue to support the Arts industries?
It’s becoming more and more apparent that the reemergence of theatre won’t be a simple as just opening the doors again. I get it. We need to be safe, first and foremost. But this begins to take huge financial impacts on the industry in all settings from subsidised theatres to smaller fringe theatres. Supporting online resources these theatres are providing and making a donation if you can is the best thing we can do right now. The arts has saved us all through this time, and will continue to save us all as we come out the other end of this crazy time we’re living in.
Have you discovered anything that you’d like to recommend to our viewers?
Besides Tiger King (if you haven’t seen it, where have you been?!), I’m a total design nerd. There’s an amazing series on Netflix called Abstract. Each episode is a documentary about a different type of designer. There’s set designers and costume designers, among others. Would definitely recommend for people in our industry, to appreciate the sheer genius of the people behind the curtain!
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 gorgeous cohort from Guildford School of Acting have a weekly quiz. Catching up with these pals is honestly the highlight of my week. They keep me going and we’ve really upped our game in recent weeks, getting creative with our quizzes. I don’t want to brag, but my murder mystery quiz was pretty special.
And finally, looking to the future, what are you most looking forward to when all of this is over?
I’m so excited to get back to work! I’ve been so incredibly privileged at the start of my career. I’ve never really had times to be fearful about when the next job might come, which is truly lovely. This time has presented so much uncertainty for everyone in our industry and has been very humbling for me. It’s really highlighted how much I adore being a performer. I can’t wait for that first performance back. That’ll be really special.
We’d like to thank Jed 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.