Mental Health at Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2017

To celebrate all things #EdFringe we are shining a spotlight on Mental Health related shows & events at Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2017.

As our show covers various issues related to mental health, including loss, grief, bipolar, mania, and psychosis, in the spirit of support and sharing (rather than competition) we are trying to bring together a list of mental health related shows, events, and activities happening across the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2017. We hope this will be a useful resource, and please do tweet us @thementalshow if you think we should add a show/event to this page.

Events & Activities

The Fringe this year is becoming increasingly aware of mental health as a subject matter for shows, but also more aware of its role in supporting festival participants to sustain their mental wellbeing throughout the festival. This year they have introduced a series of Fringe Central Events for participants: On the 14th at 1pm, ‘Mental Health is a Fringe Issue‘ invites you to join Andrew Eaton-Lewis, arts lead for the Mental Health Foundation and a programmer for Europe’s biggest mental health arts festival (www.mhfestival.com) in a talk that explores how the arts can challenge stigma, and how to stay mentally healthy when creating and performing this kind of work. On the 8th at 2pm, ‘A Mentally Well Fringe‘ invites you to join a team of mental health professionals from NHS Lothian who will offer an experiential workshop covering a brief introduction to managing stress and distress followed by opportunities to try out different strategies and approaches including: mindful walking, mindful meditation, breathing and visualisation, body scan, music therapy, cognitive strategies, exercise and mental wellbeing, and a compassionate approach to mental wellbeing. We’ll be at both events so hopefully see some of you there!

This year for the first time The Mental Health Foundation is to present a new award at the 2017 Edinburgh Fringe, in recognition of the show that most successfully explores the subject of mental health. The Mental Health Fringe Award has the support of the Tron Theatre in Glasgow, the Edinburgh Fringe, and the Scotsman newspaper. Shows from all categories in the Fringe programme will be eligible. The winner of the first Mental Health Fringe Award will be invited to perform at the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival during its new festival dates in May 2018, in partnership with the Tron Theatre’s Mayfesto programme. Andrew Eaton-Lewis, arts lead for the Mental Health Foundation (Scotland) and Edinburgh festivals editor for the Scotsman and Scotland on Sunday, said:

“We hope this award will encourage artists of all kinds to continue to make this kind of work, which is really important in opening up conversations about what can be very difficult and personal subjects, and which can often have a transformative effect on public attitudes towards mental health.”

We can attest to Andrew’s statement, as Tid put it in a recent interview with Silent Faces Theatre “The stories that people have shared post show have been a testament to theatre’s ability to engage people in meaningful experiences”

The winner of the Mental Health Arts Fringe Award will be announced at the Scotsman Fringe Awards, the biggest awards ceremony at the Edinburgh Fringe, on Friday 25 August.

Shows

We are looking forward to The Inconvenience of Wings from @baxtertheatre and South African writer Lara Foot. The show focuses on Sara, a woman diagnosed with bipolar and her relationship with her husband. A poignant drama about friendship, dysfunction, addiction and angels. We’ve highlighted it before and can’t wait to see Scribble which won the 2017 Assembly Roxy Theatre Award. It’s new writing focused on the complexity of obsession and compulsion, with a different supporting actor every night this promises to be fascinating, they’ve got a great blog going too @scribble_play. Written by Jon Brittain (Margaret Thatcher Queen of Soho) A Super Happy Story (About Feeling Super Sad)  looks like a fun, silly and sad show for anyone whose brain isn’t always on their side. The British Army & award-winning playwright Lesley Wilson team up to tell the story of a young woman soldier’s journey through post-traumatic stress in Wired.

The moving hit Every Brilliant Thing tells a story of a child trying to come to terms with their parents suicidal depression by creating a brilliant list of things to live for. In Mental we quote a statistic that says “when one in four of us will suffer mental illness, that means 3 out of 4 of us will potentially be a carer ” and Fine Thanks uses the words of young people in a verbatim musical to give voice to those lives behind the statistic. Worklight Theatre take a thoughtful look at addiction with Fix, using research and interviews with addicts and the people who love or work with them they present an ensemble show examining brains and bonds. Viki Browne @VeaBrowne is a performance artist making solo performance about the pathological, psychological and social challenges of life and death, Help! is her show about falling apart, pulling yourself together and being surprised by what you’re left with. The team here are always a big supporter of youth theatre, young voices and student work and Cognitions by SpeakUp Theatre @SpeakUpCogs is heading to the fringe after being selected at NSDF, similarly to Mental, this newly devised piece examines the effect of bipolar disorder on family life. Alice is big fan of What if the Plane Falls Out of The Sky? by @IdiotChildCo. This show is a celebration of our universal anxieties. Alice saw it in May and found it uniquely charming, heart-warming and a little bit worrying all at the same time.

Loss and grief can be a major trigger for mental illness and Translunar Paradise by @TheatreAdInf deals with the difficulty of death sensitively. The show might not explicitly declare it is about mental health but it is one that will break your heart and warm your soul. Hyphen Theatre with support from www.mqmentalhealth.org present The Soft Subject (A Love Story) in which Chris Woodley delivers an anarchic lesson in heartbreak, mental health and how our culture shapes our assumptions about love. It’s about family, failure and survival. Andrew Scott’s recent comments that playing Hamlet can no longer be a question of  “is he mad or not” and that really we are dealing with someone who is experiencing profound grief offer a mental health sensitive reading of Shakespeare’s tragic play. There’s no guarantee that’ll be the case in Ghost Light Players Hamlet, but it sounds like it’ll be worth seeing this struggle with grief and sanity as thirteen actors bring you the thrilling tale staged in the round.

PreScribed (A Life Written for Me) examines the mental impact of being a GP whilst the NHS melts down. Performance artist Viv Gordon uses dance and verbatim text to tell the stories of GPs on the brink, with the aim of improving understanding and access to support for GPs living with mental illness. Show Up is a show with a great little trailer and what looks like a brilliant concept, Pete transforms real life audience experiences into a comedic, vibrant, life story where you get to control the content for this socially anxious show about you. Part of British Council Edinburgh Showcase 2017 and following a sell-out run at the 2017 London International Mime Festival The Nature of Forgetting looks like another stunner from Theatre Re, it’s said to be a powerful, explosive and joyous piece about what is left when memory is gone. Unapologetically Northern (cheers from Mental’s director Tid) Trashed gives a whirlwind account from ‘Goody’ – a mid-thirties bin man (David William Bryan) struggling to deal with the death of his daughter whilst battling his uncontrollable thirst for booze.

Based on the rave reviews for her previous work Nicole Henriksen’s, A Robot in Human Skin promises a fresh, truthful, and heartfelt look at mental health and the ways we treat and understand it. The Harmony Choir look to be offering an uplifting and inspirational evening of music with Mental Notes. Formed to demonstrate the positive effect of singing on mental health and well-being they invite you to join in the positive power with an evening of songs and singalongs, with all profits being donated to mental health charities too. Tackling issues of loneliness and isolation, My Name is Irrelevant, brings new writing and an original live score to an unraveling story that peers inside the mind.

While our show is at the fringe we’ll also be fundraising for Heads Together, Centre for Mental Health, Bipolar UK, and local Edinburgh charity Health in Mind.

You can view a list of more mental health related shows here