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Six Productivity Tips To Get Actors Through This Lockdown

Updated: Jan 30, 2021

The Christmas decorations are long gone, the last mince pies have been devoured or binned, and New Year’s resolutions have been made (and broken).

Nikoletta Soumelidis

It’s 2021, and if you’re anything like me, you’re eager to sink your teeth into a new project. However, thanks to the new and improved coronavirus, and with case numbers on the rise, that’s easier said than done.

Learning how to bake sourdough bread will only get you so far. So, instead of just letting you crawl back into bed to binge Bridgerton, I’ve lined up 6 reasons why you should keep your creative juices flowing amidst the ongoing lockdown:

1. Revive Your Inner Artist

Ever since publishing “The Artists Way” in 1991, Julia Cameron has been hailed ‘The Guru of Creativity’. In an age of endless self-promotion and ‘marketability’ Julia offers a way of getting back to the love of the creative process itself. Her New York Times Bestseller aims to help readers reject self-doubt and nurture their creative potential in all its forms.

Millions of readers, including artists such as Reese Witherspoon, Kerry Washington and Alicia Keys swear by the author’s process of self-discovery and personal renewal.

You can practice Julia’s creativity-boosting rituals too. Her tools include the famous ‘morning pages’, so called ‘artist dates’ and techniques to deal with criticism – all of which can be found online, and done within the safety of your own home.

2. Start a Play-Reading Group

It’s probably been weeks since you’ve set foot in a rehearsal studio, let alone on a stage. However, that shouldn’t mean that you should miss out on the thrill of performing together with other great actors.

Call up a few of your friends and take your work onto Zoom. Online platforms will never replace the joy of sweating it out with your mates in a windowless black box, but they will give you the fix you need in times of isolation.

Use this opportunity to work on pieces you’ve always wanted to explore, or on material that you’ve been too scared to tackle. Forever the innocent ingénue? Get some blood on your hands and play tortured Medea. Often cast as the timid geek who never gets the girl? Go crazy and give Lady Bracknell a try, or see what it feels like to crumble under the weight of playing John Proctor.

If you are currently studying or previously attended drama school, you may have access to Drama Online.

Otherwise, you can give Scribd a try. The international database provides access to countless books and plays for £9.99/month. In case you’ve had to tighten the purse strings lately, don’t worry, the first trial month is free.

3. Put Pen to Paper

Since opportunities to perform are few and far between these days, some of you may want to explore other artistic endeavours, such as writing.

Now that you’re stuck at home, you have ample opportunity to let your imagination run wild.

Perhaps you finally have time to write that screenplay you’ve been telling everyone about. Discover your inner Tarantino and give UEA’s free two-week screenwriting course a try. It will provide you with all the basic skills you need to get started.

In case theatre is more your vibe and you’ve downloaded iTunes U, you may also enjoy the National Theatre’s online course on playwriting.

For anyone who wants to write articles about specific topics and make a little extra cash while doing so, joining Vocal might be the right way to go. Vocal Media provides creators with a platform and community to share their writing with the world.

4. Keep Your Gloves Up

If you’re not one for words and prefer getting physical, don’t fret!

RC-Annie, one of the UK’s leading stage and screen combat companies, offers weekly £6.50 drop-in fitness classes online.

Anyone who has a little more money to spend can also explore their other online classes. Their training includes courses on Intimate & Violent Movements, Theatrical Handguns and Firearms for Film. Look out, Dwayne Johnson!

5. Get Inspired by Theatre at Home

If the lockdown blues has gotten the better of you and you’re running low on energy, get some inspiration from theatre online!

To stay afloat during these trialling times, the National Theatre has launched National Theatre at Home. Did you miss out on gems like Yerma or Coriolanus? No problem! Instead of having to queue all morning at Southbank for tickets, you can watch your favourite shows in your comfy living room. A subscription costs £9.99/month or £99.98/year.

Other theatres, like the Old Vic and the Bush Theatre, have also been streaming some of their previous productions online, so keep your eyes peeled for future offers!

In case UK theatre alone isn’t enough to satisfy your appetite for the stage, try a subscription to Marquee TV. Aptly nicknamed ‘Netflix for theatre geeks’, Marquee TV not only streams productions from the RSC, but also The Bolshoi, the Opera Zurich and The Joyce Theatre. A monthly subscription costs US$8.99.

6. Grab a Camera and Get Rolling

The upside of a pandemic in 2021 compared to 1918 (other than advanced medical practices, improved housing, and microwavable popcorn, of course) is our global network.

Creating and sharing content has never been so easy. We are no longer reliant on big studios or networks to publish our work, nor do we require unaffordable equipment to express our creativity.

Grab your lockdown-buddy, your smartphone and the latest draft of your script and show us what you’ve got.

You don’t need to be an expert in filmmaking to make a piece of art. A beautifully acted monologue against a plain white background can be just as (if not more) moving as any Hollywood blockbuster.

If you do want to play around with form and structure, check out Spotlight Multimedia’s free four-weekly video production course. You’ll be introduced to the principles of cinematography, the proper way to storyboard and to the basic steps of editing.

As always, share your work with the FlairBox community. Confiding in your peers is the best way to make it through these rough months. It’s great seeing what you come up with and you never know what partnerships and collaborations may flourish from just one little clip.

Regardless of how you choose to spend these weeks at home, remember, there is no right or wrong. Everyone copes with this situation in their own way and individuals and institutions alike are still figuring things out as they go.

Refrain from comparing yourself to your peers and try to engage in activities that bring you joy. Take a long run around the block, order that adult colouring book on Amazon, or bake another batch of freaking muffins. Plus, I heard Lupin is très amusant, so binging might not be such a bad idea after all...

Nikoletta Soumelidis is a quadrilingual actor and writer. Her work before and after graduating from Drama Centre London includes ‘Richard Thomas’ Wrong Songs for Christmas’ (National Theatre), ‘Always Again’ (Old Red Lion Theatre) and ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ (Bush Theatre). She has written pieces for Maktub Theatre and Magnetic Island Theatre and is in the midst of producing her first full-length play ‘Spent’.

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