VAULT Festival | 2020
"It's important to be quite mindful about protecting yourselves so there's thins I've done to protect myself in how it's written, and also having clear boundaries about things I'm unwilling to talk about in the rehearsal process."
Everybody Cares, Everybody Understands
11th - 16th February at 19:50 pm
"You think you're the only person that's ever felt like this? What makes you so special?
Lou has a problem.
Lou is a problem.
She's moody. Impulsive. Unstable. A pain in the arse.
Her mental illness won't fit into an inspirational story of redemption. She doesn't eat enough kale. She doesn't do enough yoga.
Why can't she just be happy?
When an act of desperation brings her into conflict with her family and friends, Lou starts to wonder where her mental illness ends and she begins. Played by an inclusive and eclectic ensemble of actors, Everybody Cares, Everybody Understands follows Lou as she tries to make sense of her condition and her place in the world.
Hi Melissa are you looking forward to bringing Everybody Cares, Everybody Understands to VAULT Festival 2020?
I mean, I'm excited just to go to rehearsal for this play, the thought of it being on at Vault Festival
When debuting a new play do you ever get nerves ahead of your shows run?
Absolutely. I think the hardest lesson has been that any techniques or tactics for managing nerves I've developed while directing plays is not applicable when it comes to my own writing! I was fairly straight with the team to begin with i.e. 'I don't know what I'm gonna be like when this is in production, I could turn into a monster,' but the team have all been great so far. Though I'm getting through a box of chamomile tea every two days it seems.
What do you hope to gain from your time at Vault Festival?
To have a lot of fun with the piece, and for the team to have with it together and enjoy the experience.
Can you tell me a little bit about Everybody Cares, Everybody Understands, what can we expect?
So Everybody Cares, Everybody Understands is a post- dramatic piece of work in which a writer tries to makes sense of their experience of mental illness in a capitalist society, amidst mental health narratives that are narrow and unhelpful. It looks to represent different experiences of mental illness while having one unifying voice. It's also funny, uses foley, and we will end up with a VERY messy stage by the end.
"The writers I most admire are the ones that make themselves vulnerable in order to communicate something they feel is important."
Did you have any apprehensions about creating a show that comes from your own personal experiences?
I've been writing the piece a very long time so I feel like I've considered a lot of the difficulties and issues surrounding it being based on personal experience. It's important to be quite mindful about protecting yourselves so there's thins I've done to protect myself in how it's written, and also having clear boundaries about things I'm unwilling to talk about in the rehearsal process.
Has it been cathartic for you to write a play that focus on mental health?
It's helped to make a lot of sense of my experience. I was reading a book this week that had this fantastic Virginia Woolf quote 'I make it real by putting it into words. It is only by putting it into words that I make it whole; this wholeness means that it has lost its power to hurt me,' which I felt really summed up the experience much more articulately than I ever could.
After writing Everybody Cares, Everybody Understands has it been cathartic for you to look back at this time in your life and positively move forward?
I've worked pretty much continuously for the last 5 years. I think having the work staged has reaffirmed that I have a spine as an artist. The writers I most admire are the ones that make themselves vulnerable in order to communicate something they feel is important. That's a really frightening thing to do but an important thing.
Have you always had a passion for theatre?
I feel like I'm married to theatre. Or that I'm in this long term relationship with it. Even when I'm a bit disillusioned by it, something always comes along that changes things and allows me to see it in a new light.
"...it's just theatre, and that your health and wellbeing is not worth sacrificing for anything, not even something you care about deeply."
Has your approach to your shows changed much since your debut show?
It's bizarre, but actually the more you do, more notice your work gets and the higher the stakes become, you become more robust at recognising that ... it's just theatre, and that your health and wellbeing is not worth sacrificing for anything, not even something you care about deeply.
Do you have a favourite theatre quote?
'The truth is concrete.' Brecht.
It reminds me that whatever the outcome, the love, care and hard work that has gone into the show is always apparent, even if the end result doesn't work as well as you'd like.
What has been the best advice you have been given?
Don't compare yourself to others; compare and despair.
And finally, what do you hope your audiences will take away from Everybody Cares, Everybody Understands?
A sense of hope? Maybe a bit of a laugh and a cry, but largely an overwhelming sense that in spite of everything, it's all going to be okay.