Genuine stories about emotional issues

The Fringe Mental Notes performers (from left) are Laura Wells, Vincent Batt, Gabby Golding, Kimberley Buchan and Sofie Welvaert, all of Dunedin. Photo: Peter McIntosh
The Fringe Mental Notes performers (from left) are Laura Wells, Vincent Batt, Gabby Golding, Kimberley Buchan and Sofie Welvaert, all of Dunedin. Photo: Peter McIntosh
Grappling with the issues of suicide and depression can be emotionally exhausting.

However, Dunedin performer Sofie Welvaert said rehearsing Fringe show Mental Notes was worth it to keep the conversation going.

''These are genuine stories so we've put importance on getting it right. This show will help people learn, but also for people who experience mental illness it will continue that conversation that they aren't alone.''

Welvaert is part of the seven-member cast using local stories of depression and mental health issues to create monologues, dance and poetry.

The show is being performed by Suitcase Theatre, who make use of stuffed suitcases as a ''movable stage''.

Welvaert said sharing other people's stories helped to normalise mental illness.

''It's important to answer 'How do I feel better about this so I don't go away and hide in a cupboard?'.''

The team will be supported by Life Matters Suicide Prevention Trust and the profits will be donated to the organisation.

Much of the writing was inspired by cast members' experiences, she said.

''It's elements of our own stories, or with other people, family, friends with mental illnesses.

''It's been amazing but challenging. We have to take these issues, but make it watchable.''

The personal aspect made rehearsals very emotional, she said.

As was tradition, the cast would invite the audience to chat and drink tea with them afterwards, she said, ''rather than leaving people feeling lost.''

New Zealand needed to keep mental illness in the limelight.

-Mental Notes will be performed 8pm tomorrow and 2pm and 8pm on Saturday at Artsenta.

jono.edwards@odt.co.nz

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