Lockdown Life: Emma Jones

(Image l-r: Emma and Leila after a refreshing dip in the sea)

I have never spent so much time at home!! Being a Production Manager and Lighting Designer I’m very rarely in one place for very long and that place is never home. After spending seventeen years working for the same company, this year I had started a new adventure, working part time with Catherine Wheels and freelance for the other ‘part’. I was looking forward a big change in my life, although obviously I didn’t imagine it would be quite like this.

I have finally stopped looking at my diary and wondering how a project would have turned out, or dreaming what Portugal would have been like in June, in fact I don’t even use a diary at the moment – all my Zoom meeting codes are stuck with post-its around my monitor and I measure the weeks by working out how long until the tomato plants start producing tomatoes and I can truly be self-sufficient.

Yes, over the past few months I’ve joined the masses in the hunt for flour and baked some pretty decent bread, I’ve grown some delicious radishes and each day has started with Adrienne for Yoga, even before a cup of tea. All those forgotten kitchen gadgets have been dragged out from the back of the cupboard and popcorn has been popped, pasta dough squeezed and coffee beans ground.

But what next? Theatre as we know it is temporarily off the menu.

Coming out of shock, myself and my fellow Scottish Production Managers are regularly meeting via Zoom to discuss together the new framework which we will need to be working within, drawing on information from other industries that are already up and running, to help figure out how and when we might be able to get back to work. We have formalised what was a fairly standard “meeting” in the pub over a pint or two and the aim is to help the industry resurface, safely and without the loss of (more) venues or talented people. It’s a loss we just cannot afford.

I’ve been using this time to research a greener, more sustainable theatre practice. One of my roles at Catherine Wheels is to look at how we can become more environmentally sound. I have just finished an online course in Concepts of Sustainable Development and I’m now the Green Champion for the company. We are aiming for a Carbon Neutral Tour in 2021 and this is going to provoke some brilliant conversations when we can get together as a team. I’m lucky, all the Catherine Wheels team are actively engaged with making our working practice greener, I don’t have to convince them of the “why” and we will all come together to work on the “how”. We will be taking this thinking forward with our Make Space collaborators for the rest of this year, making environmental choices as important as artistic ones.

I’m looking forward to setting foot inside theatres again, in fact I can’t wait and while making popcorn has been ever so much fun – I’ll happily push the pan to the back of the cupboard for the next ten years or so.