Free immersive show comes to Stockport and Salford raising awareness of challenges faced by young people struggling with their mental health
After a successful first performance at the Royal Northern College of Music, an immersive show that aims to highlight the challenges faced by young people who struggle with their mental health is going on tour across the North West.
The performance has been created by two National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) centres, ourselves at ARC-GM, and the Greater Manchester Patient Safety Translational Research Centre (GM PSTRC).
Ten young people from diverse backgrounds worked with researchers and not-for-profit organisation Made by Mortals to create a performance that encourages audience members to walk in the shoes of a fictional character, Adam. They recorded a podcast which is combined with a live performance to create the show.
Adam is 18 years old and transitioning from children’s mental health services to adults. Immersive sound and live action combine to give a real sense of what it’s like to be Adam. Audience members are encouraged to wear an eye mask to heighten the experience. A trailer has been created to give an insight into what it’s like to attend a performance - https://arc-gm.nihr.ac.uk/hidden-live.
One of the young people involved in the performance, said
“All of us involved have different ethnicities, ages, genders, and backgrounds. It really helped when we were creating the characters, and all of the details around their lives, because we all had such a range of experiences from our real lives that we could draw on due to the differences in our cultures and unique backgrounds. For example, we decided on the name Adam as it was ethnically ambiguous, so anyone could listen to the podcast and relate to it, because we didn’t want anyone to feel limited and as though it couldn’t be applied to them.”
An actor plays the part of Adam’s mental health support worker, Shaun. He helps to guide the audience through the story and suggests they remove their eye masks at key points during the performance. Shaun speaks about his experiences of working with Adam. The script for this was created by working alongside parents and carers with lived experience of mental health services. Shaun speaks about his relationship with Adam, the support he is able to offer and how that is changing now that Adam has turned 18.
Prof. Karina Lovell, lead for Mental Health at ARC-GM and Professor of Mental Health at the University of Manchester, said:
“We believe the podcast that’s been created with young people and Made by Mortals gives an accurate portrayal of the challenges faced by young people struggling with their mental health. It’s a powerful performance and we hope it makes a difference to not only the people who come along to the live performance, but to those who read the resource we’ll be creating on the day.”
Shaun also highlights how the music, which was co-created by the young people involved, reflected the story. This included an eclectic mix of instrumentation representing the cultural heritage of the young co-creators, and Adam’s dialogue being transformed into beautifully lyrical melodies performed live by a violinist.
Paul Hine, Director at Made by Mortals, said:
“Coproduction is at the heart of this project and it’s this that helps us to create a sense of what it’s really like for young people struggling with their mental health. We are keen for as many people as possible to experience the performance and encourage anyone interested to register for tickets.”
The performance will be followed by an interactive session where audience members are encouraged to ask questions about the show to encourage discussion.
One of the researchers, Dr Leah Quinlivan, who leads mental health research at the GM PSTRC, said:
“An important theme of our work is mental health and this includes developing interventions for adults as well as young people. We are therefore, delighted to be involved in this project, as it has the ability to reach a diverse audience and make a difference to young people struggling with their mental health.”
Further information and details of how to book tickets for the upcoming performances at The Forum Theatre in Romiley, and The Lowry in Salford can be found here - https://arc-gm.nihr.ac.uk/hidden-live