Carole Mitchell is a Front of House Assistant. Here she reflects on how the pandemic has impacted her life.
I am a Scot who has lived in London (and various countries overseas) since 1987. I now call London home but my heart is still in my adopted city of Edinburgh, having been born in Greenock. I believe my passion for theatre began when I first saw a show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 1974 and I was hooked!
I work as a Front of House Assistant at two theatres. I also volunteer FOH at Southwark Playhouse and Battersea Arts Centre. My paid jobs are both on zero hours contracts which works well for me as I can work as much or as little as I wish. I generally work two or three daytime shifts a week at the Unicorn and two or three evening shifts at the Peacock. When I am not working most of my evenings are taken up with either volunteering, assessing for OffWestEnd or attending shows (or live music) as a paying customer.
I really enjoy my work, mostly because of the colleagues who are nearly all much younger than me and it’s great to be around young people and hear what they are getting up to. I also love the interaction with audiences and at the Unicorn it can be quite rewarding to see young kids watching a show perhaps for the first time and really enjoying it. And of course I get to see the shows – which is usually a good thing, but not always!
On Monday 16 March my life changed completely. My two theatres announced they were closing immediately. I really couldn’t believe that all theatres were going to be closed. I had gone to see shows at four different venues the previous weekend! My work and my social life were now decimated. Not working and not being able to attend cultural events has had a great impact on me as I often find it hard to motivate myself to do other things. As I live alone I very much miss seeing people – living alone is fine when you are mixing with people at work or socially but not 24/7, There is also the financial impact. One of my theatres furloughed all their casual staff immediately but the other one dragged their heels about this, although it has now been resolved.
I am fortunate in that I have other income but many of my colleagues are in a very precarious position. And if, as seems likely, theatres are to remain shut till at least the end of the year, I foresee major financial problems since it is unclear how long the furlough scheme will last. What happens after that? And also what happens to the industry as a whole? A long term closure would impact on me hugely.
How has the pandemic impacted your life? Let us know firstname.lastname@example.org