THE BIG RETHINK
launching Like Minds Big reTHiNK international mental-health arts festival and World Mental-Health Awareness Week
at Q, 305 Queen St, Auckland
From 3 Oct 2012 to 6 Oct 2012
Reviewed by: Adey Ramsel;
STAGE SHOW MAKES A STAND FOR MENTAL HEALTH
New Zealand's creative industries are uniting to remove the mark of shame from mental-health problems. After considering 71 script submissions and holding open auditions, 11 directors, 60 actors, 8 dancers, 12 script-writers, 7 musicians and 10 comedians are now underway with rehearsals for a cross-over theatre show that is set to shift public mind-sets at the same time as it entertains.
The Big reTHiNK opens at Q theatre on the 3rd of October to launch the Like Minds Big reTHiNK international mental-health arts festival and World Mental-Health Awareness Week.
From improvised street theatre outside the front doors, to art installation and music in the foyer to the theatre itself – The Big reTHiNK sets out to create a theatre experience, not a theatre show. The interior of Q theatre is to be shrink-wrapped to create surfaces for visual projections and transform the venue into the ‘inside of madness.'
Approximately 80% of the 100-strong cast has lived experience of recovery from mental unwellness and the remaining 20% have experience supporting a friend or family member – audiences will have no way of knowing who is who, “which is part of our message; people with mental-health challenges are no different from people without them and this show asks us – what's normal anyway? ” says producer and creative director Taimi Allan of Mind and Body Consultants.
Cast-member Aidee Walker (Nothing Trivial, Outrageous Fortune) says of her involvement “The word depression can be really tricky and people are quick to label...New Zealand has such a ridiculously high suicide rate, it needs to be addressed.” Script-writer Sheree Veysey says “These days, I tend to see it that we're all vulnerable in different ways... It's not just something I have to hide.” Comedian Mark Scott knows what it is like to support a friend through mental-health problems and describes how he believes “anything that helps us understand ourselves a little better and be less judgemental of each other...is a good thing.”
In the words of host and comedian Rob Callaghan, The Big reTHiNK “helps open up the eyes of the general public and get rid of stereotypes.” Co-producer Miriam Larsen-Barr adds, “But it does it in the course of entertaining people. At face value, this is simply a killer theatre experience that everyone interested in the arts should see, underneath that are some really important messages that will change people's lives.”
Plays written by: Dan Tomasulo (USA), Daniel Larsen, Laura Ashton, Lora Keyes, Lynz Wilmshurst, Miriam Barr, Rex McGregor, Ric Colsey (Australia), Taimi Allan, Sheree Veysey, Stewart Allan, Steve Carter.
Directed by: Yee Yang 'Square' Lee, Roberto Nascimento, Adrian Frencken, Coco Reed, Benjamin Teh, Lynz Wilmshurst, Georgia J M Giesen, Kristian Larsen, Joselyn Khor, Toni Tippett and Louise Tourelle.
Starring: Aidee Walker, Rob Callaghan, Irene Pink, Chris Brain, Penny Ashton, Justine Smith, Mike Loder, Tarun Mohambhai, Tevita Manukia, Mark Scott, John Carr and more.
The Big reTHiNK runs from 3-6 of October
at Q theatre,
culminating in a Charity Awards Gala and the announcement of the winners of The Big reTHiNK People's Choice Awards.
An open dress rehearsal on October 2nd provides an opportunity to attend for those who may not usually be able to go to the theatre.