Today 16th May I have now been in lockdown for 2 month. I was employed on a non creative job when the Government advised people to work from home, and fortunate enough to be allowed to keep working and earning at home for the rest of the contract. Post Easter I am both in lockdown and out of work.
So far I have managed to occupy my time by an overhauled my email inbox and folders plus File Explorer: deleting thousands of old emails and documents. I have had a clear out of old papers/reports/Equity Journals etc, setting up a new filing system. I have been learning with short free courses; The Inspiring Drama Teacher from David Farmer gave me space to think of new ways to use drama; and a brilliant Social Media Magic from Joy Foster/Tech Pixies started my upskilling in digital and social media plus several FEU training webinars. I have brainstormed workshop ideas and am developing a new presentation skills training course.
News has been banned; with a block on news sites on my laptop and my entertainment coming from Film 4, E4 and The Drama Channel none of which carry news bulletins. I have had to step back almost totally from social media; news/Twitter feeds were making things worse. The Stage, which despite the turmoil outside is managing to deliver to me albeit with some delays, is being filed to be read in the future: I can’t do it just now.
When I knew lockdown and unemployment were coming I envisaged plenty of time to catch up on reading plays and those theatre related books that I never seem to quite get round to but as yet this hasn’t happened. I have found that action based tasks such as above help to keep me occupied and mentally distracted: reading for its own sake does not.
However all this activity does not stop the regular paralysing pauses as the reality of what is happening intrudes. It is not just the UK’s theatres that have shutdown or even the UK creative sector: but the UK, and the world as a whole. Like many other freelance creatives I am left frozen by the reality of how am I to survive. The majority of freelance creatives are use to period of unemployment, it comes with the job (or not!); however if you are unfussy and resourceful there is the possibility of finding a short term “day jobs” to keep you going. Whilst the Government’s recent announcement of support for freelancers is welcome, the conditions attached mean that a large number of creatives, those whose careers are portfolio with a number of elements including work paid as PAYE, and many others will find themselves ineligible for any support. A prospect which does leave you quite paralysed with fear.
Whilst I know many creative colleagues are resourcefully making virtual work for steaming across social media (and I applaud them) I am going to take this time to hunker down, take time to recharge and renew.