Billy Roberts is an actor with stage credits including Gad/understudy pharaoh in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at Kilworth House, ensemble in Nativity! the Musical UK Tour and Steve/understudy Don in the UK Tour of Summer Holiday. I was lucky enough to talk to Billy about how he is handling life in lockdown and his hopes for the future of the theatre industry.
First of all, how are you feeling about the whole situation?
It is really hard to put my finer on how I am feeling at the moment. At first, I was really sad and just could not understand why this was happening. It took me a few days to realise that this needs to happen and the quicker we all listen and stuck to the guidelines then the quicker we will all be back to doing what we love.
How have you been keeping yourself occupied during the lockdown?
I was in America rehearsing as a swing for of my best mates show Choir or Man so it took me a few days to get myself into a routine. Since then I have managed to keep myself occupied with a few quizzes, exercise everyday and binge watching TV series. Ozark is a must people!!!!
What are you most looking forward to doing once lockdown is over?
It sounds so corny but just sitting and laughing with my friends and family. I have the most amazing people in my life and that is what I miss the most, more than anything. Just to sit with my best mates with a beer and a laugh. Also getting back to performing at some point with be awesome too.
Is there anything we, as theatre fans, can do to help the arts industry in these trying times?
That is a really hard question to answer actually. I think that the theatre community have been incredible in this time at keeping each others morale up. Also in supporting peoples online concerts etc. Honestly, just keep being the amazing supportive fans you already are. Our community will be back!
What is your favourite thing about the theatre industry as a whole?
The creativeness blows me away everyday. Whether that is being in a show or watching how the creatives work or going to see a show and seeing what they have created, it just blows me away every time. My most recent show was Nativity! the musical and watching how our director Debbie Issit (who I LOVE) got the best out of the when some of them have never trained was incredible and an experience I will never forget. I also love the friends that you make. I have been so lucky in career as every job I have done I have friends that, without question, will be in my life forever.
With the theatres closed and so much being moved online, do you think we are seeing a big change in how the industry works?
It is funny you have asked this as I had this discussion with my friend the other day. I think what producers have been doing with putting their shows online is incredible and definitely something that could change the industry going forward. For me though, I just don’t think that you can ever beat that live experience and because of that I can’t see it changing massively. It’s definitely been interesting to see how much has been able to move online.
How have you been managing day to day life in quarantine? Do you have a routine, or do you just go with the flow?
I have actually been okay. I definitely have a routine with waking up, having breakfast, then working out straight away whether that’s doing my friends Insta Live Hit workout at 11am everyday (give him a follow he’s awesome @bobulus) or going for a long run which has been great for me because it is a great time for me to get away from Netflix etc and just think about everything. It also really calms me on an anxious day. Then once I am back, I have the rest of the day to either do some activities at home with the family or online quiz with friends, or like the last week if I am totally honest just binge through Ozark lol.
Do you have any advice for people who are perhaps finding lockdown hard to manage?
To anyone who is finding it hard to manage lockdown, all I can say is speak out. Call your friend/mum/partner just to char whenever you need to. If someone is doing a quiz or something online and you are invited, make yourself join in. If there is something that you have always fancied giving a try, maybe an instrument or a language, now is the time to give it a go. Even if you don’t succeed, the fact that you went for it and tried your best is an achievement in itself. We are all in this together and I can only speak on behalf on myself that if any of my friends need a chat on a hard day, I am always at the end of the phone.
Do you think that it is important to talk about mental health in these challenging times?
1000000%. Mental health should be spoken about always but in a challenging time like this maybe even more so. I know it is easier said than done but as I previously mentioned in the last question if you need to talk please do. I promise that friend/family member will be there for you 100%. We the theatre community are a family and will always be there for anyone! Take care please stay safe and I can’t wait to see you all soon!
I would like to thank Billy for his time and his wonderful answers to my interview, and wish him the very best for the future. Stay safe x