5 Ways to Begin is the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival’s scratch night, led by Associate Artist Emma Jayne Park. This year, it took place at Flourish House, Glasgow and Assembly Roxy, Edinburgh. Talking Heads reporter Stuart Low reflects on the event at Flourish House, which featured Ellie Silver, Lewis Sherlock, Jen Athan, Bibi June and Jassy Earl & Chloe Smith.

Right, so I will write this really quickly. Someone had an experience with the medication. Then someone else got a cup of tea. Then the balloons never touched the ceiling. Then a girl was crying. Then a woman talked about her family. Then there was a plastic fight.

First there was a girl lighting candles. Then a guy’s life was all over the screen. Vibrations talking to her. Then a tightrope with the question of where was the rope suspended. Then she read to us. Then she walked form the side of the floor to the other. Then emotions ran high.

Then there was tea. Then there were bubbles being burst. Then there was applause. Then there was more reading about the side effects of medication. Then there was another joke told by someone who didn’t want you to read his Facebook page.

I saw someone who was good at what they do. I saw people talk and laugh with the performers. I saw someone who wanted to listen to what people say. I had seen people trying to get their point across no matter what. I saw people clap their hands. I had seen people sip juice. I had seen people sip water.

The lights were bright. The lights went dark. The participation of the audience was written on ruled paper. I had seen the outcome of more than an afternoon of rehearsals. I had seen a conversation built up from scratch. A performance talking about what people feel inside when they think no one is listening.

Coming from the stage were performers trying to not be alone. I had seen people on seats. I had seen people come from the door. I listened to the different styles of conversation. I saw the audience react. I saw the paper stretched. I saw instructions from the user manual of life.

Made a wee bit up then, but that’s what it was. Different people stating what they had to say. Political maybe. Spiritual again maybe. Lesson in life, definitely. Expression. Hypertension. Medication. Emotion. Comparison. Repatriation. Conversation. Applause.

Going back over the whole night, I enjoyed it. I wanted the people around me to enjoy it. I assume that the people around me also enjoyed it. A definition from the perspective of 5 Ways to Begin. A pleasurable statistic might be the one that is never given. A way to assume that everything in the world is connected.

Many photographs were taken. Many more needed to be taken. Everything suggested that connections were made. Meeting new people and being invited into their world, if only for a brief moment. Only for the space of a few minutes each time.

Realisations made to figure out what the rest of the world might think had they seen this work. These works of art. An unassuming detriment to the world of good. You had to be there to see it. You have to see it. The extension of their lives. A point in their world. Suggested to you. A brief encounter with… Add your words here.

by Stuart Low