J'AIME OCTOBER 2019

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F E AT U R E

Wellbeing through the arts

WITH WORLD MENTAL HEALTH DAY ON OCTOBER 10, BIRMINGHAM’S BEDLAM FESTIVAL

OFFERS A THOUGHT-PROVOKING PROGRAMME OF PERFORMANCES WHICH LOOK AT MENTAL

HEALTH AND WELLBEING THROUGH THE ARTS. AMY NORBURY DISCOVERS MORE

It is estimated that one

in four people in the

UK experience a mental

health problem each year,

and as many as one in

six people in England

suffer from a common

mental health issue such

as anxiety or depression

every week.

That adds up to a

staggering amount of the

population who are, or

have been, affected by

mental ill health. Chances

are that you, or someone

you know, have suffered -

or are suffering right now.

THE THING WILL HAVE

ITS WORLD PREMIERE AT

BEDLAM

Yet mental ill health is still so often seen as a taboo

subject. Something to be ashamed of. Something we

just don’t talk about.

Birmingham’s BEDLAM Arts and Mental Health

Festival aims to change that perception.

Taking place throughout the city from October 1 to

12, BEDLAM will present more than 25 events in a

range of venues to raise awareness of mental health

and wellbeing through the importance of the arts.

Welcoming artists from across the UK to the Second

City, as well as plenty of home-grown talent,

BEDLAM will showcase an exciting and engaging

programme of theatre performances, dance,

movement workshops, art installations, wellbeing

walks, film screenings, family events, Q&A sessions

and a special BEDLAM Symposium.

Performances and exhibitions will take place at

Birmingham Repertory Theatre, as well as at

partner venue the Midlands Arts Centre (MAC),

Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and various

community centres around the city. Performance

partners include Sampad South Asian arts and

heritage and, new for 2019, Geese Theatre

Company, who use theatre and drama-based

techniques within criminal justice and social welfare

settings, delivering projects that support the process

of positive change.

Opening the festival is London-born Koko Brown,

who brings her play White to MAC for the first time

blending music and spoken word. Further highlights

include No Bond So Strong, a new commission by

Sampad which is a life-affirming production about

motherhood and holding family together, while

Geese Theatre Company present Playing the Game,

featuring a cast of four who take audiences on a

journey through a century of maternal incarceration.

BEDLAM launched eight years ago as a partnership

between Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health

NHS Foundation Trust and the Birmingham

Repertory Theatre, following discussions between the

NHS Trust and the REP’s associate director Steve

Ball about the ways in which the arts can support

mental health and wellbeing. The festival has run

biennially since.

“This is something which, over the past four years

especially, has become much more prominent and

the profile of which has been very much raised in

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