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Plymouth vendor Clive is keeping up his acting classes even in lockdown

Clive sells the magazine outside the port city’s Theatre Royal and he tells The Big Issue: “Theatre is my life”

Credit: Trevor Burrows

Theatres around the country may be shut, including the one where Big Issue vendor Clive sells the magazine in Plymouth, but that hasn’t stopped the much-loved seller keeping his passion for acting going.

Clive has become a fixture of the community on his pitch at the Theatre Royal Plymouth, starring in several productions, including one where his canine companion Geezer had a short cameo.

But the coronavirus lockdown has meant that the theatre has closed its doors for the first time in 37 years while Clive has been forced to self-isolate in his shared accommodation, missing out on his regular Project X and Our Space acting sessions at the theatre.

I am blessed to have them together, The Big Issue is the absolute golden ticket for me

Clive has been keeping himself sharp by honing his monologue skills while he is working with the theatre to get internet access so he can participate in online theatre sessions from next week.

And that’s a big bonus for his mental health, says the 56-year-old seller, while a pal has left him £50 at the theatre from ticket refunds after a cancelled show.

“The theatre is my life,” said Clive. “It’s that old adage that you can take people off the streets but you can’t take the streets out of people. I’ve been on the streets for so long that the only way I can get the same excitement as if I’m working on the streets is standing on a stage.

“I’ve given up alcohol and everything else and the theatre is my life now. The Big Issue keeps me afloat and right next to the thing I love doing, which is the theatre. I am blessed to have them together, The Big Issue is the absolute golden ticket for me.”

The theatre community has rallied around Clive to give him piece of mind about Geezer and the veteran vendor, 56, is already turning his attentions to This Land, one of Theatre Royal Plymouth’s biggest productions to date which was due to be performed in June. The huge event, which is part of Plymouth’s celebrations of the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower’s historic voyage to the New World, will now go ahead in 2021.

Clive added: “The money from the theatre has sorted my food for the week. So I’m really happy and I’m really glad of it, it’s a worry out of our hands.

“I’m a single person and one of my biggest worries is if I did get Covid-19 seriously, what would I do with Geezer? But I’ve been told: “Don’t worry, the theatre family will take Geezer on while you’re in hospital”. So that was a major relief for me. I’ve had a lot of people thinking of me and calling me.

“In a way I think it’s good that This Land has been delayed – because another year gives you extra planning and when we get over the Covid-19 situation, people are going to be gagging for a bit of theatre, gagging to go out and do things and they will want inspiration. So I think it will be even bigger and better next year. I’m finding positives out of a difficult situation.”

You can support vendors like Clive by subscribing to The Big Issue. Head to bigissue.com/subscribe for details.

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