Look after your Noggin: Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival

Every year, World Mental Health Day (Mon 10 Oct) draws attention to the importance of talking about our heads, which is one of the best things we can do to keep our mental health in check – why do you think we’re constantly harping on about the effect live storytelling has on both tellers and listeners? Because it works, so read on and get involved for the good of your cranium…

Today, make sure you sit down with someone you love, grab a brew and have a chat about where your head’s at, then come along to the Centre for Real Talk this evening which kick starts the Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival’s (10-31 Oct) thought-provoking programme of events here this week, featuring dance, theatre and a children’s puppet workshop to ensure little ones get ahead on mental wellbeing.

She Wins All the Races: a Tragicomedy with Biscuits (Thu 13 Oct) tells the story of an intelligent, happy little girl who loves life, her two brothers and stealing the priest’s biscuits. But her world is blown apart when she discovers that her brothers won’t live past their sixteenth birthdays.

This heartening and quirky show about growing up with the certainty of loss is based on solo performer Shelley O’Brien’s real life experience with two brothers who were born with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. It’s a play full of humour and courage, and a fitting tribute to Shelley’s brothers incorporating digital projection and an original soundscape by Patrick Dineen.

Shelley O'Brien in She Wins All the Races

Storytelling duo Suit and Pace produce shows aiming to educate, entertain and engage communities by tackling serious issues with humour.

Suit and PaceThey present the interactive Cheering up the King (Sat 15 Oct) for 5-8 year olds, with the youngsters challenged to cheer up the sad King, encouraging understanding of mental health.

Mental wellbeing is a big focus of their work, and they’re committed to communicating positive messages about wellbeing in fun, engaging ways, as well as understanding the increasing demand to educate young people on the significance of mental health. Saturday 15 October is also Social Saturday, so it’s fitting this Fife based social enterprise is showcasing their skills, so come along to support.

Then on Saturday evening, enjoy a double-bill of dance theatre innovatively exploring how societal actions can impact mental health, created by SMHAFF Associate Artist Emma Jayne Park and emerging choreographer Julia James-Griffiths.

Julia’s dance inspiration stems from exploring human psychology and the senses, mentored by Christine Devaney. The Box is a work in progress that explores the impact depression can have on an individual and how society chooses to respond. The piece asks, with 1 in 4 of us living in “the box” at some point, what are we going to do about it? This is your chance to contribute to this developing piece with a Q&A included with Julia.

The Box

Thinking in the First PersonEmma (also known as Cultured Mongrel) creates socio-political performances as catalysts for discussion and social change. Thinking in the First Person is a highly physical combination of contemporary dance, b-boying and hip hop which explores how self and value fluctuates with the modern machinations of presenting oneself online, questioning the consequences of perpetual self-editing.

Putting pen to paper can be a cathartic process for the brain, and on Mon 17 October, you can enjoy an evening of moving and inspiring stories on the festival theme of “time”, as the best submissions from the Festival’s open writing competition, held in partnership with Bipolar Scotland, are showcased on the Netherbow stage at the SMHAFF Writing Awards.

Then on Tue 18 and Wed 19 Oct, In Motion Theatre Company present their first touring production which focuses on the experiences of starting over, gaining trust, building friendships and trying to get rid of labels defined by society. Where the Crow Flies has been commissioned by Sense over Sectarianism in association with the Scottish Government and was researched in the community of Blackburn, West Lothian with local women.

Carrie is ostracised by the community she lives in and increasingly feels isolated from the world. Her husband is in prison for a crime he says he didn’t commit and her baby son won’t stop crying. Feeling alone and with no-where to turn, Carrie has little interaction with anyone until a new neighbour moves in next door. But is the incomer all that she seems?

Written by Lisa Nicoll and directed by Beth Morton, performed by Angela Darcy, whose recent credits Where the Crow Flies Visualinclude Janis Joplin: Full Tilt (Pachamama Productions), Ring Road (Oran Mor) and Venetian Twins (Royal Lyceum Theatre) as Carrie and Keira Lucchesi who is thrilled to be playing Emilyin her first theatre role since leaving River City. 


Here’s to World Mental Health Day! Make sure you open up and keep yourself happy in mind, not only today, but every day.

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