I'm three days into rehearsals for the solo performance I am creating, Worse Things Happen, about my experience of depression. It's a bit of a juggling act because I'm self-producing, but I have some truly wonderful creative people working with me (a solo show is never solo!), including support from Sandra Bendelow through NTW's WalesLab Producer Mentoring programme. Louise Osborn is nominally my dramaturg, but is so much more in reality. Lara Ward, who helped me in my research and development last year, is back on board as Movement Director. Between the two of them I feel as though I am in safe hands - and safety is so important as I plough into deeply personal material to create a performance that I hope will speak to everyone who sees it.
That's really what these first days have been about. I had some material that I had put together for two scratch opportunities in October last year, at The Other Room and madeinroath, so I began by performing that again for Louise and Lara (toughest gig of my life, performing that for two women wearing frowns of concentration and scribbling notes...). We've spun off from that material, going deeper into the stories I am telling and the movement impulses I had improvised around.
What is the story you are trying to tell?, Louise keeps asking. Why are you making this? I feel so strongly that this story, of my on-going battle with a demon in my own mind, is something that so many other people experience and never tell - because they don't have the words, because they don't have the platform, because there's no one listening, because they are just trying to keep it all together. I was floored by this article that I read recently (although it is from 2013), reporting on the depression - both economic and that of mental health - in the south Wales valleys. 10,000 prescriptions for anti-depressants a month in an adult population of less than 60,000! And how many more don't seek medical help? Perhaps the numbers are lower elsewhere, but still: we're a society of walking wounded, and how often do we acknowledge that openly, let alone ensure the safety nets are there for those suffering?
Worse Things Happen is at Chapter Arts Centre, 10-12 March.