Development of new music theatre work "What Fine Things We Are": a creative response to experiences of working in mental health services.
by Kath Bruce in Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
About What Fine Things We Are
What Fine Things We Are is a new piece of music theatre set in a psychiatric hospital. I am writing it as a response to my time working as a music therapist in mental health services and to help frame discussions about mental health in a different way.
What are we raising money for?
We are trying to raise £3500 towards the costs of a week of creative development time with a director, musical director and professional actors followed by a work-in-progress performance at Assembly Roxy in Edinburgh in January 2018. The money we raise will enable us to pay the artists at industry rates and cover travel and accommodation; while the creative development will allow the piece to emerge with integrity - vital for exploring the sensitive topic of the human condition and society’s response to it.
The background to my project
The piece follows the journey of lead character Stevie, a man repeatedly sectioned with recurring psychosis, through residential treatment in a mental health facility. We observe how the various mental states he experiences during his recovery are often reflected in the system around him. With him on his journey are his nurse Amanda, his psychiatrist Dr Duke, and a fellow patient, the silent Gloria. You can read more about the work and hear a few of the songs, sung by me, on my website.
I began writing What Fine Things We Are to hold some of the overwhelming emotions that are present for patients and workers, including myself, in the mental health system; and explore the emotional responses that are triggered in order to deal with them. To me music theatre is the perfect art form for presenting the complex range of conflicting emotions and perspectives that exist alongside each other in institutional care.
Why we need your support?
One of the challenges facing pressured and under-resourced mental health services is to be able to see the people it supports as individuals; whose strengths can be fully realised and celebrated and whose vulnerabilities fully met and understood. I'm writing What Fine Things We Are because I want to celebrate the lives that too often go unseen. Within this there is a truth for us all: we may all have hidden sides of ourselves that long to be seen, and if they are, might turn out to be our greatest strengths.
Your support of What Fine Things We Are helps us in two ways: you will be helping to create a new piece of music theatre and raise awareness of the challenges affecting those who suffer from poor mental health.
Tokens of our appreciation
We have various tokens of appreciation for your contributions, including a personal traditional tune commission for you, a loved one or an occasion (check out my website for examples of my traditional composition); my band Corran Raa in your (hopefully large!) living room; or a ceilidh from Edinburgh-based band Carrie On Dancing
We will be very grateful if you can contribute to our project, and/or share this campaign with anyone you think might be interested.
Anything you can give will help make this production happen, and allow those hidden away selves to get up onto the stage and dance!
Thanks to an incredibly generous and positive response to this campaign, we have now exceeded our initial target of £3500, which was our minimum budget to be able to run a short period of development work. With further funds we will be able to run a lengthier and greater resourced period of work. We intend to seek further funding if possible, however scarcity of funding in the arts means the less reliant we are on external bodies to fund us at this stage, the better.
Many thanks for taking the time to read this.
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What Fine Things We Are: New Music Theatre by Kath Bruce
Produced by Kate Taylor
Directed by Kath Burlinson
All characters and events depicted in this story are entirely fictitious. Any similarity to actual events or persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
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