From life on the road to life’s online mode, Scenesaver’s Instagrammer Tommy Murray shares his screen on the highs and lows of his pre-pandemic story and wants to encourage you to keep creative somehow even if it seems absolutely impossible…
Poet and Playwright Oscar Wilde, writer of ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ a trivial comedy for serious people, where the play’s protagonists pretend to be people that they are not, said:
We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.
Now more than ever, many of us are in the gutter and with the world on its knees people, like the eponymous Earnest, are having to adopt alternative personas to some degree as a way to survive in this difficult society. Some of us, as Wilde says, are looking at the stars…but right now the sky is looking pretty bleak. Many creatives (and non-creatives alike) have been forced through difficult circumstances to do an alternative job (or jobs) rather than what they want to do and are taking steps to get on in what have been called these very unprecedented times...
Everyone is adapting to this new way of life the best they can, in the ever-changing new normal. For example, my old normal life was spent adopting the guise of Touring Actor, (which as you can imagine came to a grinding halt), but in one of my current pandemic personas I am playing the role of Teacher. I am doing a 5 day a week gig and I spend most of the time (when I am not delivering my didactic dialogue) planning lessons and disinfecting surfaces… At the weekend I don’t play my teaching part and I let my lockdown locks down and get the pleasure of playing the small supporting role of Social Media Man for Scenesaver, (I also do it during the week if I can). By night, Social Media Man, supporting Scenesaver one post at a time, sharing theatre and connecting with the artists and creatives in our struggling community.
My name is Tommy Murray and I am (despite not currently taking the stage) a performer, creator and hat collector from the UK. I have performed across Spain and on the northwest coast of Africa, in Paris, *Edinburgh* at the Fringe and in London’s West End – as well as many regional theatres and arts centres in the South East. I am writing a post here as I wanted to encourage those who are struggling to stay motivated and creative (such as myself) that we will get through this and I hope that my little story will brighten your day and reassure you that you are not the only one going through a difficult time. Please connect with us here at Scenesaver and for my part please connect with @Scenesaverhub on Instagram and I am sure I can answer your query, sending you in the direction of the lovely ladies at the helm of the operation (Caroline and Lindsey) or maybe I can share your show, or your company on an Instagram post or our story.
I would like to tell you a story, as you see, writing this blog post, like posting on Instagram for Scenesaver has been my little creative break from answering questions from muzzled students and sharing Zoom screens. I encourage you to find that creative thing that gets you through the day, however small, from writing your thoughts to fixing something in the garden.
Once upon a time…Holy mother of Hashtags, where do I start…Well, as Julie Andrews once said the beginning is a very good place. The start, well here we go then, Act 1, Scene One:
I was born in a little hospital in Greenwich which is now a block of flats…oops, TOO far back!
I want to tell you a little something about me and what occurred when COVID hit the fan, as I think that many people will find themselves remembering where they were and what they were doing like in a war, or when 9/11 happened, or when JFK was shot sitting in his car. My future children will ask me:
“What were you doing before the pandemic daddy?
Well, I was:
- An astronaut
- The voice of a little blue alien
- The voice of a bunny puppet
…and a Chinese Empress’s servant.
Depending on what day of the week it was.
Other characters are available…see Spotlight for details.
I digress. I do that. Let’s start with a #ThrowbackThursday
All the World’s a Plague
An Excerpt from an Actor’s COVIDiary
Friday 13th March
I was having lunch between shows (most of my stories start with eating). Two shows down, one to go. I call my family. I check the news on my phone. In some countries the troops have been deployed. It is not looking good. Showtime. Back to the stage. On the day the curtain came down and the shows had to stop, I was performing in a church to a group of school children in a play about China (a somewhat foreboding geographical location). To be honest I had to Wu-hand it to them – the children in the audience were way ahead of any mainstream press or meme in regards to quips about COVID-19, or its supposed East Asian animal origins.
From bowing down in a rather culturally appropriated manner, that seems to get frowned upon throughout the year, but let slide in a pantomime, to just straight up shouting ‘CORONA VIRUS’. They are not laughing about it all now though I am sure, and neither are we. It’s behind you…Oh no, it very much is not behind us, and we still have a VERY long way to go. We performed (sadly without any high fives or hugs) what we knew would be our final show. The company I was working for sent its actors packing, I was sent home and I felt displaced with little focus or purpose as I had been working with this company for four years. Fast forward to my discovery of Scenesaver. I had a lovely chat with the female strong two-person team, and asked if I could get involved somehow, perhaps posting to the social media site Instagram, where I was already regularly posting about the work I was co-producing with Theatre85 @Theatre85LIVE. We shared some work to Scenesaver that you can watch here if you want:
Anyway…I didn’t come here to self-promote. My main reason for writing as I said is to share a vote of confidence for our suffering sector. One thing is for sure – some way, somehow, we will prevail and we will come back! The setbacks that have been set, and the fall-backs that many have had to fall back on WILL be worth it in the end I am sure (that is what I am having to tell myself). Do not let the disasters grind you down. As I continue with my socially distanced social media, I hope to share positivity and kindness in this overwhelmingly weird and uncertain time. Stay safe and stay sanitised. Mask up when out and stay in, sit tight, stream and dream. Create and collaborate, but, just remember, if you are not being creative it is okay. If you are Deliveroo-ing (or in my case just eat-ing…and I don’t mean the fast food company, I mean the action of just eating, as cooking is another creative outlet that I have found some passion in), teaching, hospital/care home working, or if you are furloughed (just some of the things my fellow comrades are getting up to), just know that we will come out of this the other side, even if things will look a bit different. As Oscar Wilde said: We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars, and the sky will shine again soon, as brightly as before…
Connect with Tommy personally:
Connect with Tommy via our Instagram: @Scenesaverhub