Though This Be (online) Madness, a brand new reimagining of Skye Loneragan’s solo theatre show, is to premiere from 5-9 October at mhfestival.com and on the SMHAF Facebook page, as part of the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival’s online programme.

Filmed at home in Loneragan’s own ‘lounge room’, Though This Be (online) Madness will be broadcast in five daily episodes, each one a self-contained extract from the original show, which was to tour Scotland in May this year.

“Skye Loneragan is such a gifted and engaging performer, both in words and movement, that the quiet integrity of her unadorned staging comes to seem like a gift; in a show that talks of madness, but also of how women’s lives, honestly described, always tend to defy the norms of our culture – including our ideas of sanity and exactly what it might look like.”

Joyce McMillan, The Scotsman, on the stage production Though This Be Madness.

Though This Be Madness is the story of a recovering mum who is attempting to tell many tales of sisterhood struggles with mental health – in the midst of constant interruptions from her new-born baby. The show was to have toured to venues across Scotland this year as part of SMHAF, with support from Creative Scotland’s Touring Fund. Following the lockdown, SMHAF commissioned Skye to create a new film version of the show, and the result is a hugely inventive, funny, poignant insight into the combined challenges of new motherhood and caring for family members through mental ill health. A tour of the live version of Though This Be Madness is now being planned for May next year, again as part of the SMHAF programme.

Skye Loneragan said: “The live show came about because I spent way too long on a bounce ball with a beautiful screaming baby (post-natal, sleep deprived) trying to make sense of what was happening to my sisters, my mother, me. This online offering came about because nurturing our sanity has new meaning now. The pilates ball remains in my lounge room, but there’s no doing what I do best at the moment. I’ve really wrestled with why make an online anything from live work in this Covid-context. With support from SMHAF and a talented film editor, I found a way of re-imagining things. It actually feels like all the stuff about how we see things, how we grasp what we’ve been through, how much we love and how that love can’t always reach people in a device-driven world… hits home. Which is where I made the whole thing up anyway, this story born of real experiences. I do not seek to represent any one, or anyone’s, experience of mental illness. But I do wonder what madness we all play out day to day.”

Andrew Eaton-Lewis, arts programme officer for the Mental Health Foundation, said: “We’re thrilled to be premiering this new version of Though This Be Madness. Skye has risen to the challenge of adapting it for the screen in a way that is hugely inventive and unexpected, bringing new layers of creativity and meaning to this already compelling piece of theatre. In lockdown, so many of us have faced situations where we’ve been trying to look after people we love – often far away and impossible to reach - while also struggling to look after ourselves, and Skye portrays this with great empathy, humour and inventiveness. It’s a hugely relatable story, beautifully told.”

Skye Loneragan is an award-winning writer/performer whose work spans theatre, poetry and live art. She’s just written a new play for young audiences, The Turmeric Trail, with support from Imaginate, and was recent Glasgow Life Artist-in-Residence. Her solo shows include the Fringe First-winning Cracked, (directed by Zinnie Harris), The Line We Draw (Flint & Pitch at Scottish Storytelling Centre following The Arches), This Impossible Rim (as Wigtown Book Festival’s 2016 writer-in-residence), Unsex Me Here (The Pleasance, following The Arches) and Plucked of Purpose-the Adventures of PB (Crack Theatre festival, Newcastle Aust, following The Arches Glasgow). She is creator of Q-Poetics (the poet and poetry in places and spaces of waiting), directed site-specific work as artistic director of Toonspeak Young People’s Theatre and as an artist-in-residence works with a diverse range of community groups and organisations.

Though This Be Madness is the last in a series of seven online commissions made as part of this year’s Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival, which moved online as a result of the coronavirus lockdown. This year’s SMHAF programme also included a new film version of Mark Lockyer’s solo show Living With The Lights On, which received a five star review in the Scotsman, and five new pieces from artists on the theme My Experience of Isolation, which are still available to view at mhfestival.com/2020.

This event is taking place as part of the Thrive Edinburgh: World Mental Health Day Festival, which takes place on Saturday 10 October from 12pm-6pm and will include a discussion event with Skye Loneragan.