What’s it like being an understudy since COVID?

In an era when performer illness is more likely due to COVID, what is it like to be one of the artists who steps in?
a single female performer facing away from the camera raising their arms in a V, while standing centre stage under a spotlight.

The life of an understudy has always been an interesting one. But has it changed in recent times?

On any given night in theatres across Australia hundreds of performers are giving it their all in anything from big budget musicals to small-scale debuts.

But regardless of size, they are all exposed to the ongoing scourge of COVID, which could strike down a cast member (or more) at a moment’s notice.

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ArtsHub's Arts Feature Writer Jo Pickup is based in Perth. An arts writer and manager, she has worked as a journalist and broadcaster for media such as the ABC, RTRFM and The West Australian newspaper, contributing media content and commentary on art, culture and design. She has also worked for arts organisations such as Fremantle Arts Centre, STRUT dance, and the Aboriginal Arts Centre Hub of WA, as well as being a sessional arts lecturer at The Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA).