Sam is ill. In the grip of a depressive episode he is admitted to an adolescents psychiatric ward. There he meets Mags, an eccentric, witty, but deeply troubled girl on the brink of adulthood. Together they struggle on through the daily challenges of living with severe mental illness, and find that sometimes, in the darkest of times, the most touching of relationships can be formed. This is the basis of Chloe Yates’ Fringe show, Mental, which Chloe spoke with The Fountain about, as well as her first-hand experiences which drove this show.
TF: You are performing at the Edinburgh Fringe this year, how exciting?
Yes! We loved putting it on in London so much that we decided to go for it and take it up to the fringe! We can’t wait to get there and get flyering and get stuck in to the spirit of the fringe!
TF: Mental certainly sounds interesting, what is the premise?
Mental follows the story of teenagers Sam and Mags, and how their lives messily intertwine as patients in an adolescent’s psychiatric ward. Both dealing with severe illness, they form a unique, often volatile friendship, that is unlike any other. But as Mags’ 18th birthday approaches, a move to a different hospital and the dreaded adult ward is looming.
TF: And what drove the project, where did your influences lie?
Mental is very much based on my own personal experience as a mental health patient. I’ve dealt with various mental health issues since I was 15, and when I was 17 I was admitted to an adolescent’s psychiatric ward. I spent my 18th birthday in hospital, and then the next day I was moved to an adult ward, which I found very traumatic, and impacted my recovery hugely. I’ve always used writing as a coping mechanism, and as I started to get better and eventually went home, I just naturally started writing down small conversations that I remembered, or mannerisms of other patients that stood out to me. I started to see a story behind what I was writing, and slowly the characters appeared and then before I knew it I had turned it all into a play.
TF: What are your plans for the Fringe, having been before are there any tips or musts you would offer to first-time performers?
Plan for this year’s Fringe is just to get through it without evaporating into a puff of anxiety! Lots of yoga, baths, and long walks in nature are scheduled in amongst the rehearsals and performances. Tips for first-timers is just to pretend like you know what you’re doing, like the rest of us. Fake it ‘til you make it.
TF: Have you been to the Fringe before, is there anything you are keen to see whilst in Edinburgh?
I’ve been to the Fringe before, in a production of Big! The Musical, but this is my first time organising and taking up my own show. It’s been an absolute baptism of fire, but I’ve loved all of it, and I’m immensely proud of myself for what I’ve achieved. Now all I can do is close my eyes and pray as the chaos of the fringe descends…
When we get up there, I really want to go and see a lot of comedy. The funniest shows I’ve ever seen have been at the fringe, and there’s nothing better after getting through the stress of your own show to go out and laugh until your stomach hurts.
TF: And what are your future plans beyond Mental?
To keep writing! I’m currently working on a two man play with one of my best friends and talented writer and actor Misia Butler, so that will be the focus once the fringe is over. Mental was written very much from personal experience, and I am now really enjoying being more creative with my characters, thinking a bit further afield. More to come!
You can see Mental at Greenside @Nicolson Square from 12th – 24th August at 22:00. For tickets, please visit www.edfringe.com