Jenni Medway became a part of the MTC family in 2016 through our Women in Theatre program and then joined the Company as Literary Associate in 2017. Jenni plays an integral role in the Artistic Team assisting playwrights in developing their work.
During the pandemic, I’ve been thinking a lot about how to not think about the pandemic. There is always a temptation to be productive and use spare time ‘wisely’. With that in mind, my recommendations are about how to spend time perhaps unwisely but, I hope, for great personal benefit.
People either seem to be for or against napping; very few are in between. I am a big advocate of the nap and the time has never been better to use your allocated break time from work or newfound lack of work/reduced hours to embrace the nap. If you need any more reasons, even NASA recommends napping and has done studies into what makes the perfect length for a daytime nap.
If it’s good enough for astronauts, why isn’t it good enough for you?
#2 ONLINE GAMES
When people think of engaging with stories they often envisage novels, theatre, film or TV. I do too, but for me, playing video games is also very much an example of this. I have a Nintendo Switch that has given me great joy. My siblings gave me the game Animal Crossing for my birthday. If you haven’t come across the phenomenon yet, The Guardian has a good article about it.
The world has become obsessed with this game, which centres on setting up your own island by taking out loans from an entrepreneurial raccoon. Devastatingly, I am much more successful financially in the game than real life. I even have a mortgage that I may never pay off!
‘It never fails to amaze me that when things are bleakest (and even when they’re not) we turn to collective storytelling as a way to comfort, escape and make sense of things’
I’ve also been using the platform Roll20 to play Dungeons and Dragons online with friends. While I’m not a very experienced D&D player, I am quite enjoying playing my character, Empress Sparklehands, a level 3 Cleric with a passion for necromancy. It never fails to amaze me that when things are bleakest (and even when they’re not) we turn to collective storytelling as a way to comfort, escape and make sense of things.
#3 ESCAPIST FILMS
For me, the best escape is often watching blockbuster films. I spend a lot of time as a dramaturg thinking about story and sometimes it’s a great relief to escape into the formula of a Hollywood film, where everything is familiar and quite often so unbelievable you’re just better off embracing it and going along for the ride. The Fast and the Furious movies are blissful examples of this. If you’re interested in seeing a plot based entirely around being fast and/or furious, then this is for you. Also, often they drive cars into boats/planes/the air with many explosions.
In a similar way, there’s something about narratives built for young audiences that completely enchant me. I watched the new Pixar film Onward recently and re-watched the movie Tangled, which were both delightful. So often these movies, however silly, are engaging with very old stories and there’s something comforting about doing what people have done for millennia: telling stories about very big things in order to talk about very little but very complex things.
#4 LOOKING AT THINGS
As a way of calming anxiety, I have been using (and not using) a variety of apps that are good for mindfulness for a number of years, namely Headspace and Calm. They have taught me the value of stopping and looking at things as a way of connecting to the present. I’ve been trying to walk each day and not look at my phone, as a way to switch off.
I also sometimes just sit and look out my window and have recently seen the following:
- a tiny mouse
- two spotted doves potentially trying to mate on a roof nearby
- my own dog barking at me.
#5 SPEND A DAY GETTING INTERESTED IN SOMETHING AND THEN DON’T FINISH IT
On the more practical side of things, I often get really excited about the idea of doing a new course, learning a skill or starting a great craft project and getting swept up in the possibilities. Based on the recommendation of a friend, I recently started an embroidery project from a book called Embroidery Now. It’s full of amazing designs and projects from shoes to decorations. I’ve also enjoyed beginning a number of great sewing projects from the website Tilly and the Buttons.
And I’ve also been looking lately at free online courses with Yale Online and Harvard Online. It’s very much something you can take at your own pace and, like all these things, take one day at a time.
Published on 20 May 2020