Real-life, local stories basis of ‘Mental Notes’

Travelling light . . . Suitcase Theatre performers (from left) Laura Wells, Gretel Newman-Sugrue and Helen Fearnley are accompanied by canine companions (from left) golden retriever Max (Suitcase Theatre mascot), papillons Spot and Gypsy and great Dane Spook (Life Matters mascot) on a beach walk before performances of Mental Notes. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Dunedin’s Suitcase Theatre company has gathered and adapted a collection of real-life, local stories around mental health for its show Mental Notes

The stories, which cover a broad range of topics, including experiences with depression and anxiety, the ketamine trial in Dunedin, a stay in Wakari Hospital and watching loved ones experiencing mental illness, are shared through monologues, stories, poems and songs.

Mental Notes will be performed tomorrow at 8pm, and on Saturday, at 2pm and 8pm, at the Artsenta space at 462 Princes St.

Suitcase Theatre team member Sofie Welvaert said the group had spent the past six months collecting people’s stories to create the Mental Notes piece.

Writer and actor Gretel Newman-Sugrue and a writing team of artists, office workers, teachers and lawyers had moulded the stories into theatre, including pulling extracts from a short novel about a stay in Wakari Hospital, Welvaert said.

Mental Notes contains some wonderful black humour – I love how funny this piece is.

“Our goals are to be funny and hopeful, and to help open doors and start conversations.”

Formed about two years ago by a small group of passionate theatre-makers, Suitcase Theatre works to start community conversations, while supporting organisations that make a difference.

The theatre company aims to be a nimble as possible, using minimal staging, including actual suitcases.

For Mental Notes, Suitcase Theatre is working in partnership with Life Matters Suicide Prevention Trust, and all profits from the show will go towards the trust.