work life balance

How does a couple manage the work/life balancing act in lockdown?

In Features, Inspiring people, Native, Opinion, Pantomimes, Twitter, Video by Charlotte & Jeff

Jeff: This Blog will mainly be me writing solo, with just a few interjections from ‘er indoors (which is also where the majority of the rest of us are, obviously). The reason for this is that Charlie’s workload has expanded. In the real world, she often takes on one job too many. This doesn’t lead to any drop in quality of her work, but it does lead to a drop in her quality of life, as she is tired, stressed, and has virtually no time at home. How silly of me to think this may change under lockdown conditions! The only difference being that all of her work is now in the house. As Zoom calls are not a particularly fun spectator sport, Charlie has the good grace to take her work out into the garage-cum-bar-cum-studio. Unless it is too cold. Or too hot. In which case she commandeers my office for the day.

I am pleased with my office, I bought a nice wooden desk, a 2nd hand office chair, and a vintage wooden filing cabinet. I have also built a voiceover booth that can be easily dismantled and stored in the room. What I am saying is, everything is just so. Charlie is more than welcome to use the room during this ‘unprecedented’ time (as it gives me the run of downstairs), but it does mean things are moved. (Charlie: Oops) And left on the desk. I know I also leave things on the desk, but they are my things, they aren’t make-up and hair grips…. Day 65 of lockdown, you say…? (I don’t have much of an excuse to this one… Dude, you married me.)

Charlie wasted no time at the start of all this, and got attached to a couple of virtual directing gigs almost immediately. These were, obviously, unpaid and weren’t so much done for the exposure, as for something to do. We are very different beasts. Charlie is lost without a purpose, whereas I am quite capable of floating from day to day, achieving nothing meaningful, and be quite content (why yes, I am a writer, as it happens). This drive to keep creating and to help friends’ projects, has serendipitously led to a new paid project, which she most gratefully accepted. It just so happens to have coincided with the virtual casting process for the Panto she has been asked to direct in Gloucestershire this Christmas (fingers crossed), rehearsals for a remote adaptation of a popular stage show, a new project tied in with a West End show and a monologue she has been asked to direct.

All of this means very full days, and working as hard as ever, with no time for fun, or even to eat, at times.

overworked

Overworked

Charlie: ‘If you want something done, ask a busy person.’ That was the first line of my application to be a prefect at school and I stand by it. (Most of the time.) And I have got to know Zoom. In fact, we are intimate – definitely spend more time with it than Jeff now and I’ve learned so many tricks! Take Panto auditions: auditionees come in for a chat, I send them to a breakout room, meanwhile meet new applicant, send them to another room… I do this four times before bringing back the first pair, the panel all turn off videos so we record only them, chat more and send them off before bringing back the next pair. And this goes on all day. And it’s so clever but requires SO much concentration. I’m focusing on their performances, but simultaneously panicking I sent the wrong actor to gatecrash someone else’s practice read…

Anyway, despite the madness, online meetings really are a life game changer and will absolutely change the way I work in future to allow more accessibility and inclusivity.

Castings are one thing, but the trouble is directing on Zoom takes a lot of brain power – finally, I’m starting to understand what real people in front of screens all day experience! And rushing from auditions to rehearsals to piano teaching has become somewhat of a challenge (HUGE thanks to legendary sister Sarah for lending me her premium account). But I’m trying to just feel grateful for being busy. 

Jeff: I, on the other hand, have furloughed myself. Once he had enough information, my accountant informed me this was my best course of action, as I will get a few hundred pounds a month, which is a darn sight better than nothing. He informed me of this, not long after I ordered all of my voiceover equipment (that’ll teach me for trying to be proactive). However, I have informed my agent that I am available to apply for voiceover jobs, as I would much rather earn my money than take it as a handout, if at all possible (as would we all, no doubt). If anything came in, I would have to weigh up how much less it paid than my combined monthly furlough payments would be, and if I could afford the drop. Unless, of course, it was for a HUGE international advertising campaign, and paid me bucket-loads,  which seems about as likely during lockdown as it did before…

This also means that I can’t write during this period. I had been asked to submit a treatment for a new show by a theatre before lockdown. They hadn’t got back to me by the time Covid took hold, and obviously they have much bigger things to worry about currently. So, I don’t know if the show will be wanted now. Before my furlough, I did press on with writing bits for it here and there, but found it very hard to motivate myself, as I didn’t even know if there was reason to continue. OBVIOUSLY, now that I am not allowed to work on any projects, I feel like I have lots of ideas for it, and am itching to get some written…

The only work I HAVE done recently is promotional work for Potted Potter. Dan (Clarkson) and I recorded a three-minute Zoom version of Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone a couple of weeks ago, and it was released to the world just two days ago. We have hit over 8,000 views on Facebook (With my brilliant cameo slapping hand – Mum I’m a star!)and it is the closest I have ever been to going viral. Aside from the comment ‘OMG, Jeff has gone grey, I feel old, LOL’, it has been a lovely experience. We plan to film a remote version of Book 2 this coming week, so I guess it’s time to hack the Isolation Beard off again. And maybe invest in some Just For Men.

Charlie: I love the silver fox look incidentally. Although if Jeff does decide to dye it, I want to be the one. I cut his hair – masterfully I think, after watching only one brief YouTube video. Shame we don’t get to see it much because, for some reason, Jeff’s taken to constantly wearing a hat of late.

Jeff: So, Charlie is working herself to near-exhaustion, and I am plodding along, not allowing myself any guilt for not working. Which is the better way to cope with lockdown? I look forward to debating it with friends, in a pub, when I really should be at home, writing.

Charlotte & Jeff on InstagramCharlotte & Jeff on Twitter
Charlotte & Jeff
Charlotte Peters is a theatre director who, before the virus changed the world, was Associate on the international tours of War Horse and An Inspector Calls and due to direct new comedy Another Mother at the Park Theatre. Charlotte co-runs Brickdust who are currently developing a site-specific horror. Since the world shifted, Charlotte’s been working on online projects including a Brickdust monologue by Lucy Nichol for Coronavirus Theatre Club and Jon Gracey’s The Ultimatum Game, which premiered on Twitch. Teaching piano on Zoom has also been keeping her sane, along with learning to relax for the first time in years!

Charlotte is married to Jefferson Turner, one half of Dan & Jeff, who created the internationally acknowledged Potted Potter, currently in ‘residence’ in Las Vegas, and Potted Panto, most recently at Southwark Playhouse. In their early days, Dan & Jeff were also CBBC presenters, which gives Charlotte immense joy. As director of his own company, Jeff has just had to make the difficult decision to furlough himself as an employee, meaning he can’t do any work. As a writer, this means life is 95% the same as it was before lockdown. He’s, therefore, spending these new times running, and throwing darts in the garage-turned-pub. Charlotte and Jeff generally only see each other a few times a week so these new times hold a brand new experience for their marriage!

They're on Twitter (and Instagram) at CharlottePeterz and ActorJeff.

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Charlotte & Jeff on InstagramCharlotte & Jeff on Twitter
Charlotte & Jeff
Charlotte Peters is a theatre director who, before the virus changed the world, was Associate on the international tours of War Horse and An Inspector Calls and due to direct new comedy Another Mother at the Park Theatre. Charlotte co-runs Brickdust who are currently developing a site-specific horror. Since the world shifted, Charlotte’s been working on online projects including a Brickdust monologue by Lucy Nichol for Coronavirus Theatre Club and Jon Gracey’s The Ultimatum Game, which premiered on Twitch. Teaching piano on Zoom has also been keeping her sane, along with learning to relax for the first time in years!

Charlotte is married to Jefferson Turner, one half of Dan & Jeff, who created the internationally acknowledged Potted Potter, currently in ‘residence’ in Las Vegas, and Potted Panto, most recently at Southwark Playhouse. In their early days, Dan & Jeff were also CBBC presenters, which gives Charlotte immense joy. As director of his own company, Jeff has just had to make the difficult decision to furlough himself as an employee, meaning he can’t do any work. As a writer, this means life is 95% the same as it was before lockdown. He’s, therefore, spending these new times running, and throwing darts in the garage-turned-pub. Charlotte and Jeff generally only see each other a few times a week so these new times hold a brand new experience for their marriage!

They're on Twitter (and Instagram) at CharlottePeterz and ActorJeff.