This week the company went off to look for pieces of real life accounts of ‘Mental Illnesses’. True stories by real people, telling their truthful experience of dealing with a time of distress and crisis.

These pieces covered a range of conditions that look at depression, addiction, anger management, and schizophrenia.  It is important in the show, for the company to be aware of the real people who have had to deal with some horrible and life threatening issues; this is where verbatim comes in.

By reading other peoples experiences of bad times and also stories of hope and treatment, we can take a step closer to understanding this subject. We have devised a scene which allows each character to share their story taken from the verbatim text.  The scene works as a ‘Self Help’/’Advise’ group, that meets to discuss and disclose any information, thoughts and feelings for that week.  We see all seven characters arrive at the meeting, through an abstract journey of movement; born from how feelings can manifest themselves as a physical tick or gesture.

Below is the first rehearsal of the movement which will start this particular scene.  What will follow-on from this routine, is each character individually and as a group revealing their story.

The movement works to identify the ‘feeling’ that each actor takes from either their own experiences or the way they feel from reading someone else’s. The music adds a very emotional texture to the piece and for the company helped reflect honestly on this very serious theme of work. As a company we are very aware that although ‘Mental Illness’ can have a certain stigma attached to it; we want to portray the dangerous and difficult side, as well as the hope and normality that is sometimes cloudy by ignorance.

We are not for a second attempting to deliver the notion of a happy ending; but want to dispel the image and label of ‘them people’, because there isn’t ‘them’ we are all just people. We feel that this scene will show that particular angle; that people can get better, do feel better and can live a “normal” life. 

A particular web site of interest is ‘Uncommon Knowledge’, and we are pleased to have a number of people telling their stories and sharing their ideas on the forum with ReFraction Theatre.

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Thanks for reading,

Paul – @performeradams – twitter & @refractiondrama – twitter

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