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!
Rebecca McKinnis is part of the original London company of Dear Evan Hansen playing Heidi Hansen. Her other credits include Margaret New in Everybody’s Talking About Jamie (Apollo Theatre); Christina in Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (Playhouse Theatre); Tina Ruston in A Small Family Business (National Theatre); Cover Lauren in Viva Forever! (Piccadilly Theatre); Les Miserables (25th Anniversary Tour); Teacher and Cover Killer Queen in We Will Rock You (Dominion Theatre); Cover Jeanie in Fatpig (Trafalgar Studios); Swing and cover Donna & Tanya in Mamma Mia (Prince of Wales Theatre); Cover Kim and Big Sue in Taboo (UK Tour) and Starting Here Starting Now (Upstairs at the Gatehouse).
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 got to work as usual and went to warm up. I remember we’d just found out that Broadway had closed the night before so we figured it might be coming. Our producers came on stage and gave us the news we were to go home, it was unbelievably shocking really. We all scrambled to get what we needed from our dressing rooms and said our goodbyes. Very sad.
Can you tell us anything productive you’ve been doing?
Lots of singing to keep my voice intact, I’ve learned the ukelele and can play quite a few songs on it now (ones with easy chords that is) and I’ve been doing workouts every morning, tennis lessons, a lot of reading and, of course, home-schooling my daughter so I guess you could say my teaching skills have improved!
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 came off social media for a month or so. Things are overwhelming in this climate and I started to feel my anxiety creeping up and up. I thought I had to take measures to look after my headspace and relax so I’ve been spending time reading and having baths and watching TV- things I just never did when I was working nights. Its been hard to force myself to relax but its done me the world of good in hindsight.
With the Arts temporarily shut down, how would you advise people to continue to support the Arts industries?
Donate to charities, buy any streamed shows you can but most importantly, don’t forget us and be ready to support the Arts whole-heartedly when we make a return, it’s gonna be EPIC when we do!
Have you discovered anything that you’d like to recommend to our viewers?
Big Little Lies, Little Fires Everywhere, Follow #sharethemic on Instagram and I’ve loved watching the National’s showings of their shows.
In these times of Social Distancing and isolation, how have you been trying to connect with Friends and Family?
I’m lucky to have had my daughter but other than that its just zoom and phone calls and a socially distanced meet up with those I can.
And finally, looking to the future, what are you most looking forward to when all of this is over?
Just having my life back! Going to work and appreciating all the little things we used to take for granted like being around wonderful people every day and laughing, so much laughing! That’s what I miss the most. I can’t wait to be on a stage again.
We’d like to thank Rebecca 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.