COVID-19: Rising From the Ashes

Experiencing lockdown in the UK has taught actor Davinia Hamilton not just about the importance of being creative, but also of treating ourselves with care.

At the beginning of March, watching the crisis in Italy unfold on the news, as though it were a warning from the future, I began stocking up food and making lists of meals I could make if the coming lockdown led to supply shortages.

I wondered if this wasn’t an overreaction: perhaps my anxiety was getting the better of me. It wouldn’t be the first time.

And then, the numbers here in the UK started to rise. It was unsettling to have my fears vindicated. I began my own lockdown a week before the UK government mandated it. I have been – except for exercise and essentials – indoors for 10 weeks.

At first, I mourned all the plans I had had, which were no longer viable: performing in an immersive show in London in May; a trip to Chicago in July; a holiday to Malta to visit family in August; organising big events for the women’s rights campaign I work with.

It felt like a sort of heartbreak. Ahead of me, where there should have been adventure, collaboration, community, there was now a wasteland of dilated time and uncertainty.

I allowed myself time to grieve. I found solace in cooking meals, reading for hours on end, taking long naps (much to my cat’s delight), and video-calling friends and family.

Slowly, as the days folded into each other, life in the liminal lane became easier. From the ashes, the creative embers sparked and flickered.

Earlier this month, I started The Little Red Reading Group with a friend of mine. It’s an opportunity to read and discuss political and philosophical texts with other people across the UK over Zoom.

When I’m not working on my web design business or organising online fundraisers for the women’s rights campaign, I have been whittling away at my poetry and short stories – I hope to have enough material for a chapbook by the end of the year.

Meanwhile, I am remotely collaborating on an exciting theatre project with my friends Marta Vella and Vikesh Godhwani, which will hopefully be completed by the start of next year.

I am also engaging in discussions with my theatre-maker friends here in the UK, about how we can effectively use online technology to keep our craft alive. It is not easy, but there is hope.

I miss life before lockdown. I miss meeting my friends and going to the theatre and visiting museums. I miss travelling. I do have faith that, in time, I will be able to do all of these things again.

Meanwhile, I am endeavouring to stay creative and busy – but I also treat myself with care. After all, we are living through a catalytic crisis.

Whatever we are able to do on any given day is enough.