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Work In Progress: Time to talk about mental health

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A new play exploring themes of mental health through dance, drama and comedy is returning to Theatre Deli to mark Time to Talk Day.

Work in Progress is inspired by playwright and star Jess Gibson's own experience with Borderline Personality Disorder (BDP).

Described as "about being Scouse, dancing to Britney Spears and sharing stories of hope," the show premiered at Theatre Deli in October before touring the UK.

"I had a really hard time with my mental health a couple of years back," Jess told Now Then. "I thought when I get back into performing I'm going to make a show about it.

"People aren't as familiar with personality disorders because they're considered complex. I've always done theatre and dance but I've never seen anything done specifically about Borderline Personality Disorder."

The show will be a relaxed performance, meaning that audience members will be welcome to walk out and take a break at any time.

Mental health support charity Spirit of the Rainbow Heron will also be on hand to ensure that everybody feels safe and comfortable in the space, in support of Time to Talk Day.

"Time to Talk Day is about everybody having a conversation around mental health," said Jess. "It's about bringing together different people from different backgrounds, and getting together and talking about it."

The show is mostly based on Jess's own lived experience, as well as "fragments of science", including a look at how the brain works during an anxiety attack.

"Most of it is my story," she said. "I talk about hope towards the end of the performance and that's a mix of conversations I've had with various people, both experts by experience or mental health professionals."

Each audience member will also receive a gift to take home after the show.

"We work alongside Bear Hug Gifts, who are a Sheffield-based company," said Jess. "We talked about creating a small self-care package that each audience member can take home with them. In it it'll have something that will prompt some form of self-care."

"It's a long-lasting memory of that sense of community and that sense of being a part of something," she said. "It's a nice thing to take from the show that's not just a memory. It's a physical reminder."

Work in Progress returns to Theatre Deli on 7 February. Tickets are available through Eventbrite.

by Sam Gregory (he/him)

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