By Tina Williams, Artistic Director of Pied Piper Theatre
Pied Piper has never afforded office space, so my work area is the front room of our house and I’m used to working from home. When I saw the lockdown coming I collected our daughter from London; she’s now working from her bedroom on the helpline for her charity, and my husband also has a small bedroom as an office; he’s writing songs for a CD. As friends who we’ve mixed with recently, are now, or could soon be suffering from Covid-19, we’re all keeping a 6ft distance between us for meals and conversations.
I have an eye disability so can only use screens for short periods of time. I have several freelancers who help and each day I set tasks for them that I can’t tackle myself, so this involves a series of phone calls or quick emails. I then use the computer for short periods and organise other things to keep me busy. Before the lockdown I’d drive and meet members of our team to discuss things face to fact like design and education. This is now all having to be done remotely and I’m finding there is more spare time in the day, especially as I’ve had to stop looking after my granddaughter which I’d been doing two days a week.
I’m co-writing ‘Zoom!’ our play for Autumn/Spring, so I write a scene and then forward it to my co-writer who does the next scene and then passes it back; it’s a fun and inventive way to write. We involve our designer, composer and puppet maker and our actors who we’ve already cast. We would usually workshop with the actors at stages of the writing, but we’re managing to share ideas remotely. I contacted all our schools and theatres before they closed and reassured them that the tour would go ahead, even if it started in Spring instead of Autumn.
Our play for babies was about to start a national tour, but this has been cancelled and will need re-arranging at a future date, which all our venues seem keen to do. I’m viewing everything theatre wise as just a long interval, or a staycation without the sea!
I do some exercises with my daughter to start the day, followed by work, then some time gardening, then a walk at lunchtime, trying to increase my steps. More work in the afternoon interspersed with sorting and tidying all the things that I’ve put off for years! In the evening I catch up with phone calls to friends to see how they’re getting on. These calls are much longer than usual as everyone has so much to share!
I celebrated my 66th birthday this week, few cards, but lots of messages and a recorded singing of ‘Happy Birthday’; and the sun shone!
I’ve volunteered to help the NHS with phone calls to people who feel lonely or are in self isolation, and am waiting to hear back with my list to call. Each day we all keep our fingers crossed that we continue to stay well.
The Pied Piper Theatre Company