Dramas play with ideas of mental health

THEATRE CHALLENGE: Adam Fresco is producing the 24-hour Rethink Theatre Challenge this weekend as part of Mental Health Awareness Week.
THEATRE CHALLENGE: Adam Fresco is producing the 24-hour Rethink Theatre Challenge this weekend as part of Mental Health Awareness Week.

An international line-up of writers, directors, actors and producers are involved in a special production at the Titirangi Theatre on Saturday night.

Timed to coincide with mental health awareness week, which runs until Sunday, the show MaD – It's a matter of degree, aims to challenge perceptions of mental health.

International participants include British script writer Bob Baker who is known for his work on Wallace & Grommit and Dr Who and Dr Daniel Tomasulo, an American expert in psychodrama who is flying in from New York for the event.

Earlier this year writers were invited to submit 10-minute plays on the theme that mental illness is a matter of degree.

It was Adam Fresco, a member of the Titirangi Theatre Company and director of local drama tutoring company Drama Train, who came up with the idea for the 24-hour theatre challenge.

His idea won one of three Auckland Rethink Grants, which are awarded each year to creative projects that challenge stereotypes around mental health.

"This is the third year the Titirangi Theatre Company has run a 24-hour theatre challenge," he says.

While the interest from international writers is exciting Adam says he is pleased to feature a script by 17-year-old Luke Derrick of Waitakere called Beautiful Minds.

Teams of actors and directors will be given one of the 10 winning scripts on Friday, October 8, and will have just 24 hours to workshop them before the Saturday night performance.

The resulting compilation of plays will offer an evening of entertainment ranging from comedy to thought-provoking drama.

Adam is is directing two plays as well as co-ordinating and producing the entire event.

There are two shows at the Titirangi Theatre on Saturday at 5pm and 8pm.

"Then we're taking the whole thing on tour – all the way to Queen St to the Classic," Adam says.

The two shows will be repeated on Sunday at the Classic Comedy Club at 5pm and 8pm.

"The final show at the Classic on Sunday night is our gala night. It marks the end of mental health awareness week and there will be some special surprise guests."

Everyone involved in this weekend's Rethink Theatre Challenge is volunteering their time and tickets are reasonably priced at $15 adults and $10 for concessions.

Auckland Rethink Grants are awarded annually from a pool of $15,000. See www.rethinkgrant.co.nz for more information.

Call i-ticket on 361-1000 or go to www.iticket.co.nz for tickets to all the shows or call 817-7658 to book tickets to the Titirangi shows.

Western Leader