For those of you who attended Malit’s first event of 2020, here is a reminder of the fantastic night in-case it’s blurry in your mind. Here is an insight to everything behind the scenes. For those who weren’t, read closely but don’t worry! There are going to be plenty more Malit Events for you to get involved with in the future.
On the 16th of January we gave the public a night focusing on the SOLUTIONS that can impact mental health positively; we focused on the stigma surrounding Male Mental Health. Holding a night of Theatre, poetry, stand up comedy, quick fire talks and live music in the heart of the city centre.
In order to keep an audience engaged, quick fire talks were spread across the night, talks from organisations that promote solutions for people suffering with poor mental health. Ranging from keeping active with something like boxing, or relaxed with reading, each speaker was pitching why each intervention would be beneficial for your mental health. They only lasted 3 minutes so we could keep people’s ears open to emphasise how important these services are to the audience, as a possible alternative to medication or counselling.
One of the speakers we had was Debbie, who is the founder of the Charity Organization Sean’s Place. Located in Sefton/Liverpool Sean’s Place provide a centre for Mental Health and Wellbeing for men. Debbie was showcasing some lovely art that had been created by the public, after attending workshops at the centre.
Creating our verbatim theatre performance ‘Real Talk’
Verbatim Theatre is a performance conducted of precise words spoken by people about a particular topic. We explored Men’s experiences with Poor Mental Health, which included themes of Self Harm, PTSD and Suicide. Rather than a scripted play and actors attempting to portray characters in a story, as a company we believe in order to make a difference we have to keep it as real as possible.
After featuring in Mick Coyle’s, Radio City Talk’s - Mental Health Monday’s segment we had a surge of Men interested in sharing their journey with mental health in order to help others and themselves. We recorded a series of interviews with lots of different men aged 22-60. As a company we take pride in safeguarding these as much as we can. We proudly offer them a safe quiet space to be open and give the participants consent forms with a brief of some questions they will be asked. On the other hand, just from asking ‘Would you mind telling us about your own experience with Mental Health’, the participants were able to tell their story their own way, without any interruption.
Editing the recorded interviews requires close attention to detail. We began with over three hours of recorded interview audio. We cut this down to 15 minutes. It's a difficult process as you have to be selective with what goes forward into the final cut. Each moment is so precious and valuable which makes it difficult to choose what should be included and what should not. Twenty two versions later, we were happy with the content.
Our aim in editing was ensuring that there was a voice, story or experience within the mix that resonated with someone. The audio piece was edited in mind to help people understand, identify, emphasis and connect with the voices.
Verbatim by definition means: word for word, therefore each voice was portrayed the way it was spoken in the interview. The collection of voices echoed the powerful message that, 'you are never alone'.
With audio ready and casting complete it was onto rehearsals to bring the voices to life. Lighting was chosen specifically for each scene to add even more to the piece.
Post-show we held a discussion on stage, alongside the actors and participants, who provided the voices which carried the piece. Giving the audience a face to the experiences shared and a chance to ask any questions they may have. The two actors were able to express that being part of ‘Real Talk’ for them, was an honour. One interviewee wondered if they found it hard to emulate and portray their real and raw emotions, our actor Daryl began to explain, it was challenging as no two people have been through the same, so relating can be hard, “All you have to do is try your best to understand some of the emotion behind the experiences and words then try and draw upon them”.
By having the discussion all barriers between the process, interviews, performers and audience were able to be broken down. We stand by the idea that this makes it much more personal and raw for everyone involved, proving to be actually therapeutic hence that Performance Art is beneficial for positive mental health, in more ways than one.
Here is a little snippet from one of the Participants who shared their experience for ‘Real Talk’:
"I shared my experience on that stage, and highlighted things I said that played in the performance. I stood up and spoke freely for the first time in my life. I’ve never taken that step before and was terrified of the reaction I would get. But once I left the stage I was instantly greeted by those I knew and many of those I didn’t with warmth and acceptance. They came to me not just to see how I was, but to say I had done a great job on that stage. That they could never know I was battling myself in my head from what they saw of me. They offered support and amazingly a few even said it helped them to understand themselves better as they felt the same as me but never wanted to admit it.
Sharing my own experience and hearing from others made me leave this event and for the first time in my life I said to myself, “I’m going to be ok, things are going to get better”. Words, I’ll admit, I never thought I’d say as everything seemed to be getting worse. I can’t begin to describe how much this one night helped me as an individual. I have transformed from being alone in my problems to being able to speak about them comfortably.
I said a line in my interview that I think is relevant to this. “We all suffer with mental health, but not all the answers to fixing it are the same. The solutions that help me might not be the solutions that help you. You’ve got to try every option you can until you find those that will help you.” The methods to help you as an individual are their. Don’t give up if it seems to be a long journey to find them. Because they are there. And I truly believe that by reaching out to people like Anna and Megan you will get amazing support in finding those solutions."
Outside of events, Malit in the Community facilitate social prescribing sessions to community’s across Liverpool. We teach drama for positive mental health and a boost in wellbeing. How could we leave the lovely work they produce at the doorstep? This is why we gave them the platform to get involved in the event. They showcased inspiring talks and poetry.
Frank sadly lost his wife 10 years ago, and admits he struggles with Grief. He read his original poem to a room full of people at our event expressing his low times and triumphs and was able to touch many souls that night. Head over to our instagram @malitcommunity to see a snippet of some of the post event discussions our beneficiaries had.
Here is an extract of some things the three of the beneficiaries discussed after they performed at the event:
“I think as a trio we smashed it! Frank with your insight and observation which you turned into gold, then comes Sue a woman of honesty and grace which made me feel humble to the core, then came my turn... I can honestly admit until I stood on that stage my stomach was doing somersaults, my knees knocking I then understood how intoxicating performing can be it will be a night I’ll always remember
Not only was that night a boost for our confidence, we all learnt something about ourselves.”
The Final Curtain
From the event, the results were outstanding. The Audience and participants made us feel we had achieved more than we hoped. We wish to continue to carry this event through to other venues and continue outlining solutions for those suffering, or who know someone who is.
If anyone in the audience or any way involved in the event was affected by any of the issues/topics raised we made sure everyone was aware the night touches upon sensitive subjects. The team at Malit are Mental Health First Aiders and we implemented some safe huts within the space on the night. The huts were introduced as a safe place people could retreat to in case they felt they needed to talk something through or just a little relax. Holly and Nikki, two Mental Health First Aiders and Trainers, from there company Be Well Learning were both stationed at the huts to provide the upmost comfort to our audience.
As we come to an end, we at Malit want to say thank you for listening. If you have any questions, think you can be involved in any way, maybe there is a stigma you think needs addressing. Please get in touch, just head over to the contact section of our website and drop us a message.