Helping tackle the issues of mental health and the stigma associated with it is no small task. It is an undertaking that could easily be imagined as a marathon of serious and somber conversations with incredibly gloomy individuals. Time to Talk Time to Change at the Liverpool Everyman theatre couldn’t have been further from this.
An afternoon of performances and instillations designed to get people talking about mental health; Time to Talk Time to Change was a thouroughly enjoyable and empowering experience. I was drawn into the events before I even stepped foot into the theatre, participating in the one to one performance ‘Drive By’. A piece contained entirely within a car parked outside of the theatre, this performance was a testament to the power of conversation; how a simple chat can change a mood, create an idea or relieve anxiety. The intimate nature of the piece created a comforting sense of belonging that followed me out of the car and into the theatre, helping me engage with the other performances throughout the day.
‘Drive By’ performed by Kimberley Athawes and directed by Bethany Sproston
The variety of different pieces helped communicate how wide and varied mental health issues are. From young performers creating a brilliantly ironic silent film about the pressures of social media and modern technology, to the humourously accurate portrayal of depression, anxiety and other issues through puppets in ‘Itty Bitty Shitty Committee’ by Mighty Heart Theatre. The latter performance truly struck a chord with me. There was a warming sense of camaraderie created when depression and anxiety, two things that seem so unique and personal, were portrayed so perfectly.
All stigma and stereotypes of mental health issues seemed to be left at the door of the Everyman Theatre during Time to Talk Time to Change (or perhaps broken down and left in the car after Drive by). Wherever they were hidden, it was inspiring to spend time looking at issues such as depression within such an optimistic atmosphere.
The event was a huge amount of fun but it was also vital. It once again showed me the power performance and art can have; how it can convey emotion and create understanding in such a beautiful way. The performances of Time to Talk Time to Change not only showed the depth, variety and seriousness of mental health problems but also showed how helping people overcome them doesn’t have to be depressing as well.