Making a show about things that are really close to home, can be challenging, for theatre makers and audiences. This is why we at Silent Faces have chosen to fill A Clown Show About Rain with joy, so that the audience can come to a level of understanding whilst being entertained. This is exactly what Lauren Silver does with her fantastic show about her anxiety, Surprise. We got to chat to Lauren about their show and the festival, read on to hear more...
What drove you to make SURPRISE! ?
I suppose when I started to make this show I had two questions I wanted to answer.
My ‘show’ question is: ’How does a girl with social and anticipation anxiety enjoy a surprise party?’ and my ‘theatre making’ question: ‘Is it possible to laugh about ill-mental health?’ and also ‘How can I learn to live my life more fully?’
(Ok so that’s three questions so maybe another is ‘Where can I learn how to count?’)
I had thought about these things for many years and it wasn’t until I asked it at a Devoted and Disgruntled Weekend a few years back I was able to actually meet and talk to other artists who said ‘Do it, find out, make this show.’ And that’s where the journey began…
Who is SURPRISE! for?
I’ve been lucky enough to be supported by the brilliant #ItAffectsMe Campaign, Liverpool Mental Health Consortium and former shadow secretary of Mental Health Luciana Berger, and I’m hoping to continue connecting with Mental Health Campaigners and their networks throughout the journey of this show and beyond…
Why is Mental Health such an important subject to discuss?
Oh my gosh, well, because its our everyday!. I think ’Mental Health’ as a term is the same as saying ‘Body Health’ or ‘Hair Health’? (‘Not a thing!’ you might say but if you had curly hair you’d know the struggle…) But ill-Mental Health is seen as an ‘invisible illness’ we aren’t always able to understand it. Scientists and researchers still don’t - thats why advancements for medications and treatments are still ongoing. You often have to find your own way on this at the beginning - and that usually involves first of all admitting something isn’t right, then trying to work out how to make it right, all whilst having patience, bravery and strength to continue. So if you are having to do it on your own, isn’t it better to know that other people are dealing with it to? My show also talks about not being embarrassed about what we go through and celebrating our brains - so I think that’s an important way to look at it.
What are the challenges you have faced talking about your own anxiety?
I took a long time to admit anything was ‘wrong’. Then, when I admitted that my brain was wobbly, I realised I didn’t know how I could talk to anyone about it and started to worry whether anyone would take me seriously.
Now, after years of confusion its starting to become clearer - I’m at the stage that I can actually talk about it, and often laugh about a lot of it too.
The specifics that I play about with in the show are what I honestly find ridiculous - like my Death Anxiety, where I am literally worrying that everyone I know is dead all the time, especially if they’re late to meet me. It doesn’t mean I don’t think them, I do, but I know that by recognising how inconceivable these thoughts are, it allows me to deal with the thought and then diminish it in that moment.
SURPRISE! is about using comedy and clown to gain power over all of these things and so I invite the audience to laugh with me.
What was the last show that moved you to action?
Hmm…Ok, so not enough people saw this show but La Strada moved me to tears and reminded me why theatre is so extraordinary.
And at VAULT? Red Bastard! I’ve gotten to play with him on SURPRISE! and his show is terrifying and hilarious.
What shows at VAULT are you looking forward to?
Oh I’ve made a spreadsheet! Seriously. I love this so much - how lucky are we to have this festival? So here’s just some of whats on my list:
Week 3: Bicycles and Fish and Paul Foxcroft: Huge If True
Week 4: Burkas and Bacon Butties and Bump!
Week 5: Quantum Physics of my Heart and The Very Important Child
Week 6: Good Girl and Me and My Bee
Week 7: Foreign Body, Mental and OK, Bye
Week 8: Big Bad, Things that do not C(o)unt and A Clown Show About Rain (obviously!)
Surprise is on 14-15 Feb at VAULT Festival!