After training at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, actress Abigail Pidgeon has gone on to star in a number of productions including Old King Cole, Scar Tissue and Just Joshing. I talked with Abigail about how she is adapting to a life in lockdown, how she is keeping herself occupied and her hopes for the future of the theatre industry.
First of all, how are you feeling about the whole lockdown situation?
I am in a very fortunate lockdown position; I live with family, I have been furloughed by my teaching agency and I am still able to work as a children’s entertainer from the comfort of my bedroom. I do feel grateful for this time to myself as I am usually too busy to stop and think. That is not to say that I am not missing my best friends and other close family members, I do miss them terribly, but I acknowledge that I am in a privileged position and I feel incredibly grateful for the NHS and the key workers who are sacrificing so much to keep us safe.
How have you been keeping yourself occupied during the lockdown?
Being a virtual princess is keeping me very occupied! I have also set up my new singing business which is something I have been working towards for a while. I am trying to keep creative and inspired by connecting with other actors; thank goodness for Zoom! I have read books that I have always wanted to read but never seemed to have time for (Angela’s Ashes being one of them!) I am keeping active by doing yoga and workouts in my conservatory, although this can prove extremely difficult with a 6-month-old puppy bounding around! Me and my friends meet up via Zoom and Houseparty every week – we love the Sunday night quiz.
What are you most looking forward to doing once lockdown is over?
Getting dressed up and meeting my best friends for tapas and cocktails!
Is there anything we, as theatre fans, can do to help the arts industry in these trying times?
Absolutely! If a show is being streamed, tune in. If an artist has shared their work during lockdown, let them know your thoughts. Respond to projects or share them with people who you know might benefit from them. Perhaps donate to a company or artist that you really admire if there is an option to do so. I think the main thing is to support and share – keep the fire burning!
What is your favourite thing about the theatre industry as a whole?
Live storytelling – is there anything quite like it?
With the theatres closed and so much being moved online, do you think we are seeing a big change in how the industry works?
I do think that we will see a natural shift in how technology is utilised within the industry. I believe that self-tapes will become even more popular, there will be a greater demand for live theatre streams and artists and creatives will make use of apps such as Zoom to connect and share ideas. I do think that the industry will always rely heavily on some form of real-life human connection, however, I do think we should be utilising the technology we have to make aspects of the industry more accessible!
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 am an extremely organised person so I do thrive off routine and structure! During the week, I use a pick n mix up on my wall. There are different categories and I try to pick one activity from each every day, for example:
– 15-minute HIIT class
– Read for pleasure
– Listen to a musical soundtrack
– Organise the book cupboard!
This has really helped keep my days varied and productive. The weekend is a free-for-all!
Do you have any advice for people who are perhaps finding lockdown hard to manage?
Yes. Do not compare yourself to others. Everyone is going through a completely different experience and we are all responding in different ways. Listen to yourself. What do you need to do to get through this difficult time? If decluttering the entire house allows you to relax and focus on something practical – DO IT. It does not matter if the person next door is learning French, or if your brother is completing an online course, or if your best friend has set up a new business. Be kind to yourself and accepting of what you need to do and support others in their choices.
Do you think that it is important to talk about mental health in these challenging times?
I think that it is important to talk in general! Whether that is calling a friend for a quick chat or scheduling a Facetime with family members – however small the connection, it matters. Checking in with loved ones, especially those who are vulnerable, has never been so important. Simply opening up a dialogue with someone about how their day has been will let them know that you care and that you’re there if they need you. This will hopefully improve their mindset and yours as a result!
I would like to thank Abigail for her time and her answers to this interview, as well as wish her the very best for the future. Stay safe x