Shine On!

Sep 8 2016 | By More

Syd Barrett play among theatre offerings at SMHAFF

Full details of the 2016 Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival have been announced, with a clutch of interesting Edinburgh theatre offerings among the 300 events taking place across Scotland.

The Festival is programmed largely by the Mental Health Foundation and aims to: “support the arts and challenge preconceived ideas about mental health”. It begins on World Mental Health Day, 10 October, running through to 31 October. This year’s theme of Time allows it to offer audiences the “opportunity to engage in events that explore how attitudes to mental health have changed over the years”.

One Thinks Of It All As A Dream. Pic: Jannica Honey

Euan Cuthbertson as Syd Barrett in One Thinks Of It All As A Dream. Pic: Jannica Honey

The two major interventions of the festival are to appoint dancer and choreographer Emma Jayne Park as an associate artist, and to commission a new play by Allan Bissett about the original Pink Floyd frontman Syd Barrett, who would have been 70 this year.

While the majority of SMHAFF events take place in Glasgow, the Scottish Storytelling Centre has a quartet of shows on offer, including a double bill of innovative dance theatre from Emma Jayne Park with emerging choreographer Julia James-Griffiths.

The Syd Barrett show, One Thinks of it All As A Dream, will be at the Traverse as part of its Autumn A Play, A Pie and A Pint season, North Edinburgh Arts is hosting a showing of Simple Times, about growing up on the fifties in Glasgow, and spoken word specialist Jenny Lindsay is curating a one-off event at the Bongo Club.

Andrew Eaton-Lewis, arts lead for the Mental Health Foundation, told Æ that the festival had previously relied on being a receiving house for shows and productions which fitted in with its aims. A £40,000 grant from Creative Scotland has now allowed it to be proactive and work with theatre makers at the start of the process.

He said: “We thought it would be a good idea to do something about Syd Barrett, because he’s a fascinating person to talk about in the context of a mental health festival, and because the coincidence of the 70th anniversary of his birth being in the same year as the festival’s tenth birthday seemed like too good an opportunity to miss.

Perfect choice

Eaton-Lewis describes Alan Bissett the “perfect choice” to write the script as huge Pink Floyd fan as well as a brilliant writer. The production will be directed by Sacha Kyle who worked with Bisset on such hits as The Moira Monologues, The Pure, The Dead and the Brilliant and Ban this Filth!. It will star Euan Cuthbertson as Barrett.

Alan Bissett says: “Syd Barrett is unique in rock’n’roll history, and certainly haunted Pink Floyd’s music after he left. There’s no figure quite like him – which is itself attractive to a dramatist – but I also wanted to explore his multi-faceted character.

“He was by turns charismatic, selfish, principled and vulnerable. The legend of ‘Mad Syd’ has been enshrined in rock lore, but I wanted to get past the acid-casualty cliches to try and find the man beneath, in all his complexity.

“I took the decision to go backwards and forwards in time, through all the periods of Barrett’s life, to try and gain some understanding of the entwined roots of creativity and mental illness, as well as the various impulses which might have driven him to reject the modern world.”

Listings & links

Thursday 13 October

She Wins All The Races: A tragicomedy with biscuits!
Scottish Storytelling Centre 43-45 High Street, EH1 1SR
Booking and further details:
Intelligent, happy little girl Belinda, loves life, her two brothers and stealing the Priest’s biscuits with her best friend Angela. But her brothers are not walking properly and when she opens ‘the drawer she must never open’ her world is cataclysmically blown apart. Based on performer Shelley O’Brien’s experience of growing up with her two brothers who were born with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.

Friday 14 October 2016

The Flint & Pitch Revue
Bongo Club, Cowgate, Edinburgh EH1 1JX
Booking and further details:
A new cabaret style revue show curated by Jenny Lindsay, with spoken word, solo theatre, live lit and music. This one-off event explores mental health from multiple angles, featuring an extract from Harry Giles’s solo show Drone, exploring alienation and social anxiety through the life of a military drone, Glasgow-based singer-songwriter Finn Le Marinel and author and journalist Chitra Ramaswamy.

Simple Times
North Edinburgh Arts, 15a Pennywell Court, EH4 4TZ
Tickets and Details:
An original theatre performance about growing up in the 50s and 60s, featuring music, stories, movement and poetry. Devised and written by singer and actress Val Munro, with help from puppeteer Freda O’Byrne.

Saturday 15 October 2016

The Box/Thinking in the First Person
Scottish Storytelling Centre 43-45 High Street, EH1 1SR
Booking and further details:
A double bill of innovative dance theatre from SMHAFF Associate Artist Emma Jayne Park and emerging choreographer Julia James-Griffiths, exploring how the actions of society can impact on mental health.

Cheering Up The King
Scottish Storytelling Centre 43-45 High Street, EH1 1SR
Booking and further details:
The King is feeling down and it is up to the audience to cheer him up! Suit and Pace present this interactive storytelling session for children aged 5–8, a fun piece from an award-winning company, encouraging

Tuesday 18 – Wednesday 19 October 2016

Where the Crow Flies
Scottish Storytelling Centre 43-45 High Street, EH1 1SR
Booking and further details:
Ostracised by the community she lives in, Carrie feels isolated. Her husband is in prison for a crime he says he didn’t commit. Can she prove his innocence? Everything seems impossible, until a new neighbour moves in next door. Based on interviews and stories with women in Blackburn, West Lothian, this is a play about starting over, fighting for the truth, gaining trust and getting rid of the stamps that are put on us.

Tuesday 25 – Saturday 29 October 2016

One Thinks of It All as a Dream
Traverse Theatre: 10 Cambridge Street, EH1 2ED
Daily: 1-2pm; Friday 7-8pm (with post-show post-show discussion with Alan Bissett).
Booking and further details:
London, 1967. Pink Floyd have just released their debut album, the psychedelic masterpiece The Piper at the Gates of Dawn. But the behaviour of their frontman, Syd Barrett, has become increasingly erratic. Is he having a drug-induced breakdown? Or is he playing an elaborate joke on the band and the music industry?

Links: Full details of the 2016 festival are available on the SMHAFF website:

SMHAFF on facebook: SMHAFF.


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments are closed.