Notes from a lockdown hermit

Tarot card - The Hermit

All views expressed are authors own.

by Rhiannon Vivian

To preface this slightly scatterbrained blog, I want to say that I’m aware I have a mighty privilege. And I’m beyond grateful for it. I want to always consider how I can use it to help others.

* * *

I might have just free fallen into Hermit mode. And not really minded.

Lockdown. Lockdown. LoCkDowN. The last one is if Lockdown lived in a Hackney loft and made kinetic sand art Tik Toks.

The last six months I have been at a desk boshing out words. Some more interesting than others. All for dollar. A rare thing in lockdown. It’s kept some quite big wolves from the door. Aside from a few meetings per week, it’s a pretty solitary pursuit. The main reason for grabbing it so readily is financial stability. Particularly in Covid. And also because of an impending house move (that shit ain’t cheap). Mind you, no one is moving house, except in places with weeping willows and ducks that speak RP. So that dance is on pause.

I have done and cherished a few live shows, and IRL rehearsals. Bumper Blyton, Dreamweaver Quartet. They were wonderful, if not fraught with a new inner monologue saying things like, ‘how close are you to this person? Are you in their mouth stream? How much of everything did you touch on stage? How much of a full body and clothes boil do you need to do when you get home? Did you STAY ALERT?’ Juggling all the awesome levels of being in an improvised live show is fly-by-the-seat of your pants fun. But now there’s a new inner chatter in town. And it’s only interested in how sanitised your hands are.

We were due to tour this year…bringing our what-ho, self-aware, nu-Blyton to audiences up and down the country; delivering nostalgia and sneaky social justice in one neat polka-dot-fair-isle package. But apart from a lovely jaunt to Canterbury, our 50s ankle socks are currently on pause.

I have also done some comical self-tapes. Not necessarily for comedy. More so because my home kit comprises of two things: a step-ladder tripod, and my husband tripod. The former is obviously the understudy. Note to self. Get a tripod.

I’m wondering what I am becoming. It’s like I’ve hit the red ‘GROWN UP’ button on the Life Control Deck, in panic. Also, I feel like I am in survival mode. Earn like a muggle, save like monk (LoCkDowN’s t-shirt slogan of choice). With such uncertainty, I feel, almost madly, like I need to squirrel away everything ever, for an inevitable downpour. And squirrel myself away too. The last time the allure of hiding out in my own home was this strong, I was 17, and laid up in bed with glandular fever, dealing with the peculiar symptom of puking every time the phone rang (GF, amiright!)

Am I feeling less creative because I’m not being creative? Or because the creative life force of the country is being sucked out of us by our condescending vampire Government so we can be reborn as robots who all work in tech? (Working in tech is cool! But if we all did it, that would be uncool. And quite bad. Tech will tell you how much I shouldn’t do it. Tech is more scared of me than I am of it.) Creativity is like food. A basic human need. I need to sing. I need to laugh with my peers on stage, on the backline, in the pub afterwards. I probably need to write something creative. Hey! Good job I’m writing this blog, right? I’ve even drawn a picture with my letters: 😀

I haven’t taught online. I haven’t learned online. I am scared of online. I’m not even THAT old (lol depending on who you are). I think I have a lifetime of worry-baggage about not saying the right things or picking up on stuff, and in 3D IRL that’s enough trouble. In 2D? How can the struggle not be real? Even on social Zooms. But it’s going to have to be a demon I beat, if not to please myself, to appease expectation. Here’s hoping I am radically transformed. Like just after a big chilli-poo.

So what next? Who knows. Well done on getting to the end of my ramblings! If, like me, you’re desperate to create but creatively at sea (while burdened by the goblins of grown-up), let’s chat. It’s a funny old time.

In the meantime, I’m off to write down stuff that I’m insanely grateful for. I can’t handle the words Gratitude List, but I hear enough to make me understand it’s a very positive past time, with cumulative effect. And my goodness am I grateful for the current health of myself and my loves, my home, and my hearth.

I am also going to buy a candle and some second-hand leggings. Because candles are calming. And leggings are now jeans.


Rhiannon Vivian has been improvising since 2008, performing regularly in London and Brighton with The Maydays, Dreamweaver Quartet, Bumper Blyton the Improvised Adventure and The Concept. She also writes and performs character comedy, and took both her solo shows (Doors To Manual and Office Meltdown) to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe three years running. Rhiannon has trained in improvisation at UCB in New York, iO and Annoyance Theatres in Chicago and in sketch and musicals at the PIT Theatre, NYC.

She has also studied under many other luminaries including Al Samuels, Eliza Skinner and Tim Sniffen (Baby Wants Candy), Dylan Emery and Adam Meggido (The Showstoppers), and Steve Roe (Hoopla).

As a Mayday, she is proud to be have performed as a guest with acclaimed show Whirled News Tonight at iO Chicago, and has performed on international stages from New York to Dublin to Portugal. When she’s not writing or acting, Rhiannon can cartwheel on her elbows.