At the beginning of 2020, I like many other people, I had a list of things I wanted to do that year. One of those things was volunteering. One thing NOT on my list was a global pandemic. The world around me was changing in a way I never could’ve imagined. All of my usual ways of connecting with friends and family were taken away from me. My world was forced to become very small.
I admit, I am one of those people that didn’t really know my neighbours. The hustle and bustle of London life means you often barely see them let alone get to know them. This pandemic shone a light on how connected we are to one another and how much we need community, especially when we are all going through something so challenging.
It was at this challenging time that I was gifted with something I never seemed to have enough of before, time. Time to reflect, time to channel my energy into something meaningful and helpful at this difficult time.
I was following South London Cares on Twitter and always loved the idea of something that was focused in my immediate community. But how was I going to help when I couldn’t see anyone in person? I’m so glad I investigated further to discover they had found a way to adapt (2020’s most used word?!?)
Like everyone, I was adapting my work to the virtual world. As an actor and acting coach, I had many doubts that this could work. How could the energy of in-person connection possibly work over a screen? What I hadn’t anticipated was how much more connected we could feel because of the intimacy of being in ones own home, with others in their own homes, all going through a lockdown together. It was so personal that it felt like we had jumped over that ‘strangers' phase, straight into the ‘old friends’ phase.. we all had something in common!
The choice of Blood Brothers as a Zoom play reading was brilliant. A musical! With no music to accompany us! I was so inspired by our neighbours, of all ages and backgrounds ‘singing’ their lines to made-up on the spot tunes, speaking them in accents - some braver than I even tackling Scouse! It was just so fun to play! And that’s what these play readings are - play! Another session had us taking on an episode of TV show Miranda. We all giggled our way through that as our neighbours got to flex their brilliant comic timing and deadpan deliveries. At a time when we all just need a little bit of fun and silliness in our lives, these readings are like a tonic!
We are now moving into face-to-face social activities, and I am looking so forward to meeting the neighbours I’ve met online, in-person! I’ve just participated in a quiz night that was so much fun - and that’s coming from someone who is fiercely competitive at quizzes!!
Being back to in-person activities is wonderful, but it’s also wonderful to know that if we ever need to return to online, they can be as fun and I can participate fully while wearing my pyjamas from the waist-down!
Posted by Helene Maksoud on Tuesday 3rd August 2021
Helene Maksoud Professional Actor