Carol Moore: I borrowed my sister’s dog as my mental health therapist

1. Up and down – what’s your new morning routine? How has it changed?

My routine changed on August 2nd when I walked into the Lyric Theater for the first time in 18 months to begin work on Tara Lynne O’Neill’s wonderful play Rough Girls, about a women’s football team in Belfast in 1917. My morning routine now includes lateral flow testing, physical warm-up with choreographer Dylan Quinn, and vocal warm-up with musical director Katie Richardson – all before rehearsals with director Kimberley Sykes. All wonderful creatives that help me get going in the morning.

2. What could you do on a typical working day for …

Breakfast? I need my filter coffee and – usually – just toast and jam.

Having lunch? A typical work day is work at home or currently at the Lyric Theater, so lunch can be something hot, like soup when I’m at home or a sandwich when I’m at the theater. In the theater, however, I always feel that I need snacks, something like chips and chocolate that I might be able to nibble on when I’m there.

Dinner? I don’t eat anything but red meat. Chicken, fish, vegetarians are all popular, and I am obsessed with anything fried. I would eat fried potatoes every day if I could.

3. Have you been able to work from home – if so, how did you experience it?

I was home during the two lockdowns. I researched an article on the Belfast Blitz when the anniversary was approaching, but it was temporary and not funded. I started researching a one-woman piece called Flying about Lilian Bland, the first woman in the world to design, build and fly her own biplane, the Mayfly. I have a summer house so I spent most of the days outside writing. Lilian had to learn the powers of flight in order to design her aircraft, and she went to the first Blackpool air show in 1909 and took measurements on the aircraft on display. She must have had an incredible brain, but unlike Lilian, it took me months to learn how lifting, thrust, weight, and resistance actually work to get something up in the air.

4. Best / Easiest Lockdown Meal?

Ravioli with olive oil, lemon, chilli, garlic, spinach and parmesan.

5. Weekend pleasure?

Wine, of course, and chips and candy.

6. How did you keep yourself physically and mentally fit during the lockdown?

The garden was so attentive. It could be five or six hours and I wouldn’t have noticed. Everyone needs a break from thinking, straining their brains, or worrying about the future. We all need to be more in the present.

7. What was your daily outdoor exercise?

Take the dog for a walk around the block. I adopted him as my psychotherapist from my sister during the lockdown.

8. How do you relax?

Listen to music in my summer house or work in the garden.

9. Abstinence or tips?

Tipple – Sauvignon or Pinot.

10. Which book are you reading right now?

I haven’t read a novel in a while and have been so busy writing and longstanding work on a book about the Charabanc Theater Company (1993-95), of which I was one of the five founders. Give me another decade and I’ll crack it.

11. Best Netflix?

I don’t have Netflix – I’m the old school … but I’m obsessed with The Handmaid’s Tale.

12. The most surprising thing you have learned about yourself?

I am much more resilient than I thought.

13. On a scale from one to 10, where have you been and where do you stand in terms of cabin fever?

With a garden I didn’t really have cabin fever, but of course I missed the fact that other people came over to enjoy my garden with me.

14. What are the three things that you missed the most when you started the lockdown?

Family and friends, see good theater and go to the movies.

15. Where will you go and what will you do when restrictions are completely removed?

All of the above. I haven’t ventured into a restaurant or bar yet, so that would be nice.

16. Biggest complaint?

After a certain age, it is expected to keep pace with every technological / digital / online advancement and to have every device that enables this. Life is becoming more and more “remote-controlled” and less people-oriented.

17. Have your priorities in life or your perspectives changed?

Try not to make the little things work up a sweat. Mindfulness and being in the present help with this. Doing things that I really enjoy and being with real friends have become even more important.

18. Any new skills or hobbies?

I started drawing and painting and I found that very liberating.

19. What would you like to change forever when this is all over?

We all had to reach out to our neighbors and it reminded me of the importance of living in a community.

20. Has the coronavirus changed your attitude towards your own mortality?

Absolutely. We don’t know the future. Seize every opportunity that presents itself.

:: Carol Moore is currently performing at Rough Girls at the Lyric Theater, which runs through September 25th. Tickets and information at lyrictheatre.co.uk. She also coordinated a new exhibition inspired by the life and legacy of Lilian Bland, the first woman in the world to design, build and fly her own biplane. The Lilian Bland Exhibition runs until October 1st at the Theater at The Mill, Newtownabbey. theateratthemill.com.