Performing during Covid times

Keeping the show going is essential

THIS is why I LOVE theatre!

As discussed on our podcast, performing itself can cause a lot of anxiety. But over the Xmas period, I personally found that something else completely overtook and gave me it even greater.. the dreaded lateral flow tests. 

Every show has their own Covid protocol, although I suspect they are all very similar. 

Christmas is a time for Pantomime (we’ll known, audience interactive fairytale shows) here in the Uk, and a time where theatres, producers and performers can earn quite a lot of money. Not to mention a time for families and children to come and watch a typical Christmas show and get lost in the magic.

So keeping the show going is essential. With Covid around, it’s virtually impossible. 

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Theatre For Life

Show will challenge your mind and body.

Jack and the Beanstalk

I was playing Fairy in Jack and the Beanstalk and working for Evolution Pantomimes, one of the largest Pantomime Production Companies in the Uk. So as you can imagine, their Covid rules were extremely strict. 

Ok masks, obligatory from the moment you step foot inside the theatre to your dressing room. And from dressing room to side of stage, where you could only remove it just before you were due to step onto the stage. Everyone two metres apart onstage where possible. Antibacterial hand sanitizer in every possible area. 

But all that we could deal with. The anxiety came from the Lateral Flow Tests. Every single morning before 8.30, we were asked to take a test, send a picture of it for proof to our Company Manager and register it with the Government website or we weren’t allowed in the theatre. That 30 minutes wait, every morning seemed a year long and the heart beats rose. Would that second line appear? 

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Of course a second line meant you were infected and this, for a theatre performer has quite significant consequences. Aside from of course, health which comes first. One, if we didn’t go on, we didn’t get paid.. so that’s at least one week of shows you wouldn’t be earning money. The schedules in panto are full on meaning some weeks we have 15 shows .. that’s 15 shows worth of money lost. 

For the company, it also then has a knock on effect which is so stressful in itself. If you go off, your cover goes on. And then their ensemble tracks and dances all have to be repositioned and changed. If said cover goes off (we all know how Covid can easily spread quickly through a bunch of close contact working people) then the second cover would go on. At this point that’s two ensemble members gone. Who carries props on and off? Who can be inside the cow costume?

If the second cover goes off, well, you either cancel the show or put someone on stage with script in hand. 

And this is all if ONE principal character gets that second line on the Lateral Flow. 

Imagine 5 or 6 principal characters get it! This happened to us this Christmas, and so actors were brought in from other parts of the country to just do the parts with script in hand until we had finished our isolation. 

So yes, THAT was an anxiety every single morning which completely overtook any single ounce of stage fright. A fear far greater in that 30minutes than a 2.5 hour performance in front of 1400 audience members . 

I can proudly say that although I lost a week of shows, the show itself survived and through sheer team work and comeradery, not one show was cancelled. And THIS is why I LOVE theatre! 

 

XO XO

Jo

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