Expressing mental illness through physical theatre / by Esaf Commitee

Andrea Tweedie met up with ESAF Creative, Emma Willett, to talk about a piece that will be showcased in ESAF in February.

What are you bringing to the festival this year?

I am working on two pieces but I will talk to you about one of them. It's a play I wrote about mental health issues. What we are bringing is physical theatre mixed with a bit of fragmented dialogue trying to explore the nature of mental illness that's really difficult to just pin down to words alone.

What do you want the audience to take away from this piece?

I'd like them to bring their own experiences and be able to identify with the different parts of it. I think a lot of people struggle with mental illness in some form whether it's just a bit of stress every now and then for them to just go this is something I feel like is something I'd like to express. I went to see Institute by Gabriel last year and I had that kind of experience. I went home and googled it and everyone had different experiences and reactions to it. When I was watching it i thought this is incredible this absolutely sums up something that I feel so what I am trying to do is to try and bring this kind of feeling.

Is there a particular mental health issue the piece focuses on?

I have left it open but it's very much based on my own personal struggles with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. There's going to be a lot of that kind of stuff specifically in there but it's pretty open for people to interpret

How do you see this piece progressing after ESAF?

I am hoping this just a thing that will be a progress that we are going to keep developing it. Take it somewhere else and show it to people. I was considering maybe trying it at the fringe and yeah I will just have to see it keep growing.

Can you sum the piece up in three words?

Expressive, internal and optimistic

Why was it important for you to showcase your work at ESAF this year?

I was part of ESAF last year and I thought it was a really good platform as students performers it's really difficult for us to find a platform that affordable and gets us good venues. I get really inspired from seeing other people's work as well so it was really nice to be part of it, nice to be part of a festival that shares peoples work as well and have discussions about our work so it's also getting collaborations with people.

What artists or art inspires you?

Lately a lot of physical theatre. I have been getting more and more interested in the world of visual art and video art especially. I like to see a lot of new things and taking all the different impressions and putting it into my work.