SMHAF programme announced

Sep 14 2017 | By More

Three world premieres for SMHAF

The programme for the 11th Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival has been announced, including in its theatre section three world premieres and a Scottish premiere.

The Scotland-wide festival will be holding over 300 events from Tuesday 10 to Sunday 29 October 2017. It also boasts a (slightly) new name: it was, until last year, known as the Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival.

Some of the acts appearing at the SMHAF 2017

Theatre highlights in Edinburgh include world premieres of Hysteria! by AJ Taudevin, creator of Blow Off and One Mississippi from Mariem Omari, who was behind If I Had a Girl… RSC actor Mark Lockyer will be presenting the Scottish premiere of his Living with the Lights On.

One Mississippi is from Bijli, the first company in residence at the National Theatre of Scotland. It opens at the Traverse on October 10 for three nights before transferring to the Tron.

Omari’s verbatim play uses a collection of interviews undertaken with men across Scotland to explore how the impact of childhood experiences shape men’s adult lives, and the journey it takes them on. Directed by Umar Ahmed, and featuring Adam Buksh, Scott Kyle, Mark Jeary and Manjot Sumal, it blends humour and storytelling with powerful elements of physical theatre.

Hysteria! is part of the A Play, A Pie and A Pint lunchtime theatre season, arriving at the Traverse on October 17. Theatre-maker Julia Taudevin and Dr Iris Elliott of the Mental Health Foundation have been exploring the impact of sexism on mental health since April. The result is this “darkly comic political cabaret for our times”, which is partly inspired by the 2016 US election and the 2017 global women’s marches, and written in dialogue with over 100 people.

Promotional image for One Mississippi

Mark Lockyer will be at the Scottish Storytelling Centre for three nights from October 17. In this Actors Touring Company production, directed by Ramin Gray, he shares his true story of an actor living life on the edge, from his on-stage meltdown as Mercutio at the RSC to his fiery relationships and ultimate recovery.

Elsewhere in Scotland, SMHAF associate artist Emma Jayne Park presents It’s Not Over Yet, a very personal show about living with a cancer diagnosis. The show, which aims to turn people’s homes into intimate performance spaces, will be performed in Dumfries & Galloway.

Launching the programme, festival manager Gail Aldam said this is the SMHAF’s biggest and most most ambitious programme yet.

She said: “This year’s programme brings together hundreds of artists, activists and organisations to explore the festival theme of reclaim. In events across Scotland people are reclaiming their experiences, sharing them with others, promoting better understanding and challenging negative perceptions of mental ill health.

“It is an especially exciting year for us as we also launch a new brand for the festival and year round programme, as well as announcing a move to May in 2018.”

Other notable Edinburgh highlights include: Out of Sight Out of Mind, a collaborative exhibition featuring a variety of artwork by established and community artists which runs the full festival at Summerhall.

Emma Jayhne Park is curating 5 Ways to Begin…, a scratch night at the Assembly Roxy on October 18, which gives audiences a first look at in-development performance pieces with mental health themes.

Flint & Pitch, the spoken word and music night from Jenny Lindsay, presents Reclaim this Script, a specially programmed show at the Bongo Club on October 20 featuring Janice Galloway, Vonny Leclerc, Marc Rooney (Pronto Mama), Maud The Moth and introducing Ross McFarlane. Hosted by Sian Bevan & Jenny Lindsay.

Full details of the SMHAF will be available on its website:

Selected Edinburgh Listings

One Mississippi
Traverse Theatre, 10 Cambridge Street, EH1 2ED
Tuesday 10 – Thursday 12 October: 8pm.
Tickets and details:

Traverse Theatre, 10 Cambridge Street, EH1 2ED
Tuesday 17 – Saturday 21 October.
Lunchtimes Tue – Sat: 1pm; Evening Fri 20 only: 7pm.
Tickets and details:

Living With The Light On
Scottish Storytelling Centre, 43-45 High Street, EH1 1SR
Tuesday 17 – Thursday 19 October: 7.30pm.
Tickets and details:

5 Ways to Begin
Assembly Roxy, 2 Roxburgh Place, EH 9SU
Wednesday 18 October: 7.30pm.
Tickets and details: smhafscratchedinburgh.

Reclaim This Script
The Bongo Club, 66 Cowgate, EH1 1JX
Friday 20 October: 7pm.
Tickets and details:



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