Winner announced for Mental Health Fringe Award at Edinburgh Festival
By NCVC Staff | Published on Oct 12, 2023
Note: This article mentions sensitive topics such as suicide, eating disorders, trauma, and depression. Please read with care. If you’re experiencing any distress, consult the resources provided at the end of this article.
The Mental Health Foundation has declared the groundbreaking winner of its esteemed Mental Health Fringe Award at the Edinburgh Festival. After an extensive evaluation that included nearly 50 submissions and a final shortlist of seven remarkable shows, “Mental” by Kane Power Theatre emerged as the outstanding production on mental health themes at the 2017 Edinburgh Fringe.
The Power of Art in Mental Health
Andrew Eaton-Lewis, Arts Lead for the Mental Health Foundation and Chair of the judging panel, expressed the Foundation’s recognition of the potent impact that art holds in destigmatizing mental health. He explained, “Over the past decade, our own arts program has taught us how incredibly influential the arts can be in initiating conversations about mental health. The ability to transform challenging and distressing symptoms into relatable human stories is a catalyst for personal, cultural, and even political transformation.”
The overwhelming response to the award, with almost 50 shows ranging from plays and musicals to stand-up comedy, affirmed the crucial timing for such an accolade. This year, the quality and innovation displayed in exploring mental health exceeded all expectations, leaving a profound mark on the judging panel.
“Mental,” testament to Kane Power’s aptitude in weaving a powerful narrative, explores the turbulent relationship between the playwright and his bipolar mother, delving into the profound impact her illness has had on their lives. This remarkable one-man show took the crown among the finalists, captivating the judges with its clarity, inventiveness, and empathetic storytelling.
Celebrating Artistic Excellence in Mental Health
The Mental Health Fringe Award shortlist itself featured an array of exceptional productions that exemplify the diverse artistic expressions of mental health struggles:
- “Amy Conway’s Super Awesome World” at Summerhall uses video games and audience participation to shed light on the performer’s experiences with depression, from childhood in front of the Nintendo to her current role as a Samaritans volunteer.
- “Give Me Your Love” at Summerhall, part of a bold experimental trilogy by Ridiculusmus, humorously delves into post-traumatic stress disorder through the surreal story of Zack, a war veteran seeking refuge in a cardboard box.
- “Hear Me Raw” at Underbelly, an honest and uplifting one-woman show by Daniella Isaacs, exposes the damaging impact of media-driven obsession with “perfect” eating habits on physical and mental well-being.
- “Jack Rooke: Happy Hour” at Underbelly, a profound follow-up to the critically acclaimed “Good Grief,” delves into the issues of men, mental health, and suicide during a journey through student life.
- “Snowflake” at the Pleasance explores the struggles faced by early twenty-somethings grappling with information overload, dead-end jobs, and a lack of support.
- “A Super Happy Story (About Feeling Super Sad)” at the Pleasance is a witty and poignant musical by Jon Brittain and Matthew Floyd Jones, portraying the story of Sally, a cheerful teenager spiraling into depression.
According to Andrew Eaton-Lewis, the judging panel faced a daunting task, given the exceptional quality of all the shortlisted productions. However, the undeniable ability of “Mental” to convey personal anguish with exceptional clarity, inventiveness, and empathy secured its well-deserved victory. The Mental Health Foundation eagerly anticipates the inclusion of “Mental” in next year’s program, knowing that it will continue to make a meaningful impact.
How to Get Help
If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of self-harm or suicide, please call emergency services at 999 or go to the nearest A&E department immediately. Crisis resolution teams, consisting of mental health professionals, are available to assist individuals in severe distress. Additionally, our “get help” page offers a variety of support resources for those who have been affected by the content of this article.
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