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Press Release from Bread and Roses Theatre Company for

“Waving, Not Drowning, The Mental Health Roadshow”

 

One in four of us will have mental health problems at some stage in our lives.  This simple statement throws up a host of questions:

Why?

What’s life like for the one in ten of us in Ireland suffering from depression?

For the family and friends of the 451 individuals who took their own lives last year?

Why aren’t we doing more to help those who become unwell, and to promote good mental health?

And, why is it ok to talk about diabetes, but so hard to talk about schizophrenia?

Bread and Roses Theatre Company’s pioneering new production ‘Waving, Not Drowning, The Mental Health Roadshow’ is an imaginative attempt to address these concerns.  A montage of original short plays, sketches and songs, this exuberant theatrical experiment will premiere at An Grianan Theatre Wednesday, November 23 at 8 pm.

Initiated by Mark McCollum, Tanya McLaughlin and Kathleen McCreery, the project began last January.  Ten writers and actors were chosen to attend weekly workshops.

‘We all felt passionately about it, we had all been touched by it in some way,’ said Mark, ‘and a number of participants had professional experience in the mental health field.’  The group entered into an intensive period of research, interviewing users of the mental health services, and inviting guest speakers including a GP, a psychologist and a TD.

Kathleen, a trained counsellor as well as an experienced playwright and teacher of creative writing, facilitated the workshops and mentored the writers as they began to develop plots and characters.  ‘We wanted to ensure that the voices of those who are struggling, and those who care for them and work with them are heard,’ she said.  ‘We had no blueprint, and no idea what would come out of the process.  I’m delighted to say that after months of hard work, we have been rewarded with some impressive scripts.  The montage framework allows us to tackle a range of subjects, from bullying to bereavement, from social anxiety to self-harm.’

The creative team includes Natalia Colmenarejo, Niall Cranney, Aideen Devine, Anne Gallagher, Sinead Gallagher, Brenda Kelly, Cassie Riggs, Aoife Toner, and Kathleen herself.  There’s a story about a young woman who hears voices, a stressed family doctor, a first-time mother with post-natal depression.

Heavy stuff, you might think, but as Tanya McLaughlin, production manager for the project points out, ‘There is a lot of humour too, some really funny situations and witty dialogue. People who saw our first production ‘Can’t Pay? Won’t Pay!’ last year at the Earagail Arts Festival and recall the company’s polished performance of Dario Fo’s classic farce won’t be disappointed.’

The cast comes from both sides of the border.  Cassie, Anne and Aoife will be joined by Derry-based Ronan Carr, and by Michael Devlin, who showed his commitment to the cause of mental health when he raised over €5,000 for Pieta House walking the Pacific Crest Way from Mexico to British Columbia.

Tickets are €12.50 and €10 concessions, and block bookings of 10 or more will also get the discount.

Thanks to support from Donegal County Council Arts Services, Bread and Roses are planning to tour the show January through March 2017.  The Roadshow is suitable for community centres, colleges, transition year students, trade unions and work places, festivals and fund-raisers as well as theatres and art centres.  If you would like to arrange a performance contact Tanya, wavingnotdrowning.roadshow@gmail.com, +353 (0)83150 7030.

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