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How the Theatre Artists Fund has helped: Loussin-Torah Pilikian

First Published 28 August 2020, Last Updated 1 September 2020

In today’s Theatre Artists Fund interview series, we are speaking to Loussin-Torah Pilikian to find out how the pandemic has affected her and why she applied for the grant.

Loussin-Torah is an actress with Represent Theatre, a professional theatre company of people from lower socio-economic backgrounds that opens up the industry to those for whom it is currently inaccessible and the preserve of the privileged. You can read her story below.


How has the pandemic affected you?

The pandemic has meant that unfortunately, I’ve lost my job. We were eight rehearsals into our season. It was between March and June and were going to do three contemporary plays at Jackson’s Lane Theatre, The Vaults and Waterloo East Theatre and unfortunately it had to come to stop which meant that my pay also had to come to a stop.


Why did you apply for the Theatre Artists Fund grant?

The pandemic has had a huge effect on my mental health, my health and my general routine. It was crazy to go from doing intense theatre to doing nothing at all.

My director sent it through to our team and immediately I realised this is ideal for me because I’ve been working in theatre since last year. I’ve always been in creative arts and youth arts. Even before my season with Represent Theatre started, I was running my own events night called Wombxnity which was music, singing, improv, dance, movement, a celebration, and safe space for the feminine expression. All genders were welcome but it was a safe space for fem and non-binary people, which was amazing. This was once a month at Doña, Stoke Newington. I was also headlining a number of open mic nights and it was the beginning of my performance career really taking off so it was hard for all of that to come to a stop. This is how I’ve been making my living, finding new opportunities and honing my craft so it made sense to apply for a grant like this.

It was sad to come off Universal Credit and be self-employed with Represent Theatre and then have to go straight back onto Universal Credit.


What does getting this grant mean to you?

Getting the grant was a beautiful surprise. I applied for it and let the thoughts go because I didn’t want to put all my emotional energy into wishing and hoping. A few weeks later I received an email saying that I had received the grant. It means the absolute world that there are organisations like yours that are creating funds for this valuable area of work.

For me, theatre has always been about reflecting the perspective of society back onto the people and it’s really important that we have our arts to do that. When you go to a poetry night, people find a safe space to explore their own expression. It can be really valuable and have a positive effect on your mental health. I’ve found that not having that space can be really difficult for people, whether you are in the arts already or not.

It’s meant that I have breathing space… That there’s just a little less pressure to do so much during a national health crisis. It’s been an absolute blessing.


What will theatres re-opening mean to you?

When the theatres do reopen, it will mean that I get my job back again, and not only my job, but the space in life, that keeps me going. The space that I love. Theatre is medicine if I’m honest. To be able to work with such a tight-knit group of people and create and tell stories that otherwise wouldn’t be told. As Represent Theatre, we are a diverse cast of six people from working-class and black-mixed heritage backgrounds and it happens we were all selected for this season. We are waiting to see what happens but it means that storytelling can continue and again, people get their medicine back.


If you’d like to apply for the second round of the Theatre Artists Fund or if you’d like to donate, please click the buttons below.


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