Scratch night 5 Ways to Begin… returns to the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival this weekend, featuring ten artists at various stages of their careers showcasing performance works-in-progress inspired by mental health. Hosted by SMHAF Associate Artist Emma Jayne Park, this event forms part of our commitment to fostering new work and gives audiences an exclusive insight into work that might appear at future events.

This Saturday at Flourish House, Glasgow, Bibi June will share some of her long form spoken word theatre Daughter, Mother, Truth, which explores the cyclical impact of mental health on families by narrating the effects of colonialism and trauma on Dutch-Indonesian women. Ellie Silver presents Prescription, which explores the therapeutic quality of rituals and her journey coming off antidepressant medication.

Holding It Together is a collaborative exchange into the personal and collective grief of two friends Jassy Earl and Chlöe Smith, while composer and theatre-maker Jen Athan explores suicide through a character who struggles to communicate her dark thoughts to her peers and relatives. Finally, Lewis Sherlock, renowned for producing unique physical theatre, will be looking at how the automation of the world around us effects our mental health.

On Sunday at Assembly Roxy, Hyperion Nyx brings us Dis-connected. A performance art / visual theatre piece inspired by the concept of emotional walls and the psychotherapy work of Habib Davanloo. Max Scratchmann presents part of a full-length work in progress about living with his mother’s severe depression in an era where there was little or no support available for women bringing up families.

Theatre Sans Accents bring us Knots: Jack and Jill, a theatrical exploration of R.D.Laing’s phycological essay, exploring the relationships we experience in our lives and the impact that they can have on us. Nazli Tabatabai-Khatambakhsh presents Medea Unplugged, a performance experiment with words by Euripides and Sophocles, and finally, Stuart MacDougall poses questions through theatre, movement and poetry about how we can love ourselves and whether that can progress into narcissm.

Speaking about the events, Emma Jayne Park said: ‘I am so excited to be able to host 5 Ways To Begin… again this year and see a whole new range of work inspired by the mental health. Last year’s event was a great success, particularly with Skye Loneragan going on to develop and tour Though This Be Madness as part of the festival.

‘More importantly, it’s great to be able to run an event where the wellbeing of the artists performing is placed at the centre of the process. Often, due to the lack of resources in the sector, artists are under unhealthy pressure when presenting work and it’s great to be able to tackle this by giving support.

‘From considering where people have to travel from, so they aren’t stressed upon arrival, to ensuring lengthy times for tech rehearsal, artists perform better when they don’t have to worry about things that are easily tackled with sensible planning. I can only hope in future that we are able to grow the event to give more support.’

5 Ways to Begin… takes place at Flourish House, Glasgow on Sat 19 May from 7-9pm and Assembly Roxy, Edinburgh on Sun 20 May from 7.30-9.30pm. Follow the links to book tickets. 

Image by Jassy Earl