We are raising funds to perform our play, The Stranger on the Bridge, by award-winning writer Katie Hims, for Mental Health Awareness Week 2019. We’ll be performing at Salisbury Playhouse from 2 - 4th May and Tobacco Factory in Bristol from 14 - 18th May with an outreach programme going into prisons, schools, libraries and community centres across the South West.
"This should be taken to all theatres... We need plays like this."
On a freezing cold January morning in 2008, 20 year old Jonny Benjamin went to Waterloo Bridge to take his life. Balanced on the edge of the railings a stranger stopped and talked him out of jumping in an act of kindness that was to change both their lives forever.
The Stranger on the Bridge, is a poignant account of what led Jonny to the bridge that day and the astonishing events six years later when he decided to track down the Good Samaritan to say thanks. Launching a social media campaign called #findmike, Jonny’s quest became a global phenomenon with millions of people joining in to help him and started a journey that opened up a series of extraordinary events that took him to America, India and even Kensington Palace.
This stranger-than-fiction true life tale was turned into an award-winning documentary for Channel 4 and now this theatrical adaptation, featuring an on stage performance from Jonny himself, brings the story to the stage in a heart-warming, inspirational and deeply moving production that is both an account of what it is to struggle but also how redemption can be found in the darkest and unlikeliest of moments.
But this is also a play that offers an insightful exploration of what it is like to live with a mental illness. Jonny has been hearing a voice since he was ten years old and this is depicted as a character and interwoven into the play in a way that beautifully immerses audiences in this experience. By blending real life events with the power of theatre this is a production that challenges our notion of what is ‘normal’ and what is ‘real’.
As part of our vision to challenge stigma and open up conversations about mental health this production will uniquely be cast and crewed by a team who have all experienced issues of mental health - whether personally or through caring for a loved one. This lived experience ensures that our representation of the issues at the heart of this play are truthful, powerful and embody the concept that mental health is a universal matter that touches us all.
Sitting somewhere between The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time (National Theatre) and The Inheritance (Young Vic) we have created the key ingredients for a beautiful, moving, funny, profound, and entertaining play that challenges taboos around mental health and continues the ripple effect of human kindness.
Having developed a Research & Development piece with funding from the Arts Council we are now raising funds for a fully fledged touring production.
"Seeing it brought to life on stage was extraordinary for me. I found it deeply compelling and moving, and I could see how much it touched people in the audience who watched it. Mental illness, and especially suicide, is still something of a taboo in society but this piece helps break that, and ultimately offers a message of hope that will undoubtedly have a positive effect on anyone who sees it." Jonny Benjamin.
We are looking to raise £15600 to help fund nine performances across two theatre venues and four performances in community venues as part of our outreach programme. This crowdfunder will end on 14th January 2019, the 11th anniversary of when Jonny first met Neil, providing a beautiful marker of this story as we embark on spreading its life-affirming message to more people. With a passionate team behind the project we hope to get your support to enable us to deliver a full-scale production that will inspire audiences and explore an issue that is close to all our hearts.
Who we are
Postcard is an established production company that creates multi-platform content crossing documentary, theatre, short form film and education with the common aim of engaging with ideas of social change and making a difference in the world.
Set up in 2010 by Rich and Sam, we are proud to have produced content that has helped changed laws, raised awareness of crucial issues around the world from child poverty to environmental protection and disability to the plight of asylum seekers.
We made the award-winning Channel 4 documentary The Stranger on the Bridge and developed Pixel Learning, a social enterprise that uses film to enable young people to discuss the things that impact them.
Between the team we have three dogs (Baf, Otto and Patch) - and a ginger alpaca called Jake.
Outreach and Preventative Mental Health Strategy
Teaming up with innovative Theatre in Education company Unique Voice, we’ve developed an empowering outreach programme that will run alongside our play.
Workshops using the content of the play will be delivered alongside theatrical productions in a children's secure unit, Bristol secondary schools, Bristol Libraries and South West community centres to enable participants to explore some of the ideas raised in Jonny’s story. Empowering people to reflect on Jonny's story as a way of thinking about issues they may have experienced in their own lives - or those close to them - the workshops facilitate a safe environment to facilitate discussion about looking after the wellbeing of ourselves and others.
More about the play
The play’s design concept informing both the choreography and action - will be the experimental use of clothes. Louise Adkins’ ground breaking design will explore the notion of identity through layers of clothes and textiles - worn and explored by the actors but also used as sculptures across the set. The design vision references the artist Christian Boltanski's 2010 installation ‘a memory to nothing’ exploring archive materials, memory and human tragedy, and also takes inspiration from the artist Erwin Wurm’s clothes sculptures - where clothes are worn by humans in visually arresting and alternative shapes. The use of clothing as a sculptural element links with issues of identity and the wider themes explored in the play.
"Demonstrates the fact that we all struggle to some extent with keeping the show on the road."
Working closely with movement director Michelle Gaskell, our physical language will be both nimble, expansive and athletic. There’ll be a sense of the piece gathering momentum physically as the campaign gathers attention and Jonny’s world, both externally and internally reaches its dramatic climax.
Michelle alongside designer Louise Adkins will powerfully dramatise the experimental use of clothes as costumes sculptures on set. From the outset the cast of five (and entire cast over 30 characters) will peel away layers of clothing as they change character - which also serves as a metaphor for revealing their inner fears, worries and neurosis and culminating in the stage being littered in discarded clothes.
Artistic Director: Lizzie Minnion
Writer: Katie Hims
Designer: Louise Adkins
Movement Director: Michelle Gaskell
Associate Producer: Jonny Benjamin
Executive Producers: Sam Forsdike and Rich Bentley
Outreach Team: Unique Voice, CIC