Shortly after I registered in the Cabaret Fringe Festival, I met with Lisa Philip-Harbutt from the Community Arts Network (C.A.N.). This was a pretty pivotal meeting for me, because for the first time I found myself clearly explaining that the show is about opening up conversations about depression and about creating a community of support.
I had realized that while I have my own personal experiences and I have close friends and family who have suffered with depression, that I needed to start hearing more stories, experience from a wider range of people than my own personal network.
This is where C.A.N. stepped in to support me, they sent out a broadcast email to their entire membership database, and encouraged people to contact me for more information. Within a day of this being sent, I had one formal interview and arranged another two.
The first interview was with a Romanian migrant, who in the past 5 years has become a prolific visual artist as a means of dealing with his depression. Within an hour after the end of our interview I’d received an email from him:
“Thanks for a very interesting discussion today.
I had to paint as a result.
This is what I’ve done”
Another interview was with a woman who works in the administration side of art with a beautiful turn of phrase, and her ex-husband was diagnosed with depression in the 80s, when it wasn’t known, understood and definitely not discussed.
Another interview was with a woman who proclaimed Ukulele saved her life, that learning the Ukulele and joining the Adelaide Ukulele Appreciation Society finally made her feel like an accepted part of a community, and helped her to finally ditch anti-depressant medication after 15 years.
This is what I call my community engagement process, connecting with people from different backgrounds and creating a community of stories. Each story that has been shared with me has directly influenced the writing in the monologues, the song choices and especially my understanding of depression.
Over the past two months, I have had formal interviews and informal discussions with people from all walks and stages of life. Some have been through personal networks, some through social media and many more thanks to C.A.N. And the amazing thing I’ve taken away from every interview, has been that there is always something that I’ve related to… no matter how different each person and their experiences have been. In fact many times I found that I can empathize so closely with peoples stories that I’ve correctly finished their sentences.
This really resonated with me, that if I can relate to something from each persons experience, then the audiences at Depression The Musical would be able to as well. That these are common themes that everyone deals with, that Depression is something that is more common than we’d like to admit.
If there is anything you’d like to know about Depression The Musical, the process I’ve gone through to write it, or how I chose the themes addressed, please don’t hesitate to shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org