So, Waleslab has allowed me to have ten days to play, explore and develop an idea I have for a LARP (Live Action Role Play). I started this process knowing that I wanted three things-

1) Developing an interactive experience where the audience members step into a world that they can touch, talk to, add to and change.

2) To play with the theme of sanity, mental health and the set up of an 'asylum'.

3) To collaborate with creatives that worked in different mediums to myself. 

I've decided to split my two weeks into two parts and we've just finished part 1 and I'd like to share with you what we've got up to now and hopefully you might feel like commenting or giving feedback and suggestions for us to take on board for the next part.

Part 1 has been all about experiencing each others 'process'. The word has started to sound a bit 'arty farty' by now but basically, before entering a room where we could collaborate openly and vulnerably I thought it was really important to see everyone's way of working, where they work, what they do and how they do it. Otherwise, I think we can get caught in a trap where we're thrown into a room , expected to collaborate and end up just recycling the same old tricks. 

Dymphna Day- video artist and physical artist.

We started off in Dymphna's house on top of a mountain. You've got a choice of walking the last half a mile up the mountain or grabbing on to dear life in the back of the jumpy land rover! Dymphna sent us out into the dark at midnight with no torch and we walked individually in the pitch blackness around the top of the mountain- it was bloody scary but really liberating actually. We spent the day reading, researching, discussing our personal relationships with the theme and Dymphna explored a character when we gave her the title "behold the madwoman". 

Jony's World- sculptor and soundscape artist

what a place Jony lives in! There are flowers and trees and vegetables and fruits and micro universes and it's just delightful! And then, amongst all of this is his workshop, full of cables, electricity and weird gadgets from Hong Kong!

Marega day- visual artist, performer, musician.

We left the countryside and went to an empty shop in Newport which was a nice change. We started using our bodies, drew faces with charcoal and then went back to Marega's studio which was full of weird and wonderful things!

Bethan's day- writer.

I was really nervous when it got to my turn! I'm an avid 'scheduler' so shared this habit of mine with the group, did some writing games and excercises, we went to talk to a neuro scientist and then visited the archive place where we got to look at asylum files from 1908.

 

After these four days it was quite easy to structure the last day at The Gate in Roath (which is a lovely, lovely space by the way). We started putting a few things up on it's feet, played with light and darkness and lasers, saw how sound can play with your mind and thoughts and got comfortable with filming from all different angles. 

For the afternoon we sat and shared our ideas for part 2- what visions/scenes/moments that we'd started thinking about for the LARP, what we wanted the audience to experience and what we wanted to explore further.

Unfortunately, it seems that we won't be able to go to Denbigh's old mental asylum so we're opening our eyes to different locations. We want somewhere, anywhere in Wales (absolutely anywhere!), that has individual rooms and spaces, where we can create complete darkness, where there is heat and electricity, somewhere that's not a 'performance space'. Maybe an unused floor in a block of offices, an old hospital wing, an old school? 

Any suggestions?

Part 2 will happen at the end of May. You know, it's so great to have time to develop not just a new idea, but a new group of creatives, having the time to play, find new ways of working and giving ourselves time to let the idea change, grow and be what it should be without the pressure of it opening in x amount of weeks! It's lovely!

So, we have a sentence for you to finish please (you can write it in the comments)

Mental Health is....

Bethan.x

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Tags: asylum, denbigh, waleslab

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Comment by Bethan Marlow on May 11, 2012 at 8:57

Let me share with you some of our answers.

Mental health is...

something to be mended

not for everybody

an insight into secrets

unpredictable

business as usual

another dimension

government making boxes

spiritual growth

stability

questionable

Comment by Gareth Clark on May 10, 2012 at 10:59

....is fragile. When you think you have it.....it's already gone.

Comment by Bethan Marlow on May 4, 2012 at 9:14

Thank you so much Sarah and Angela. LOVE the "jumping off life" image....hmm.....there's definitely something in there. Diolch!x

Comment by Angela Smith on May 3, 2012 at 22:57

Mental health is-sues could be knocking on the door of someone close to you.

Mental health is forgotten when the sun is shining.

Mental Health is likened to tripping or free-falling; jumping off life because you want to?

There's loads aren't there, hope these offer something to the creative pot.

Good luck xx

Comment by Rhiannon Cousins on May 3, 2012 at 16:16

Pleasure. x

Comment by Sarah Jones on April 29, 2012 at 17:12

Mental health is underated

Comment by Bethan Marlow on April 29, 2012 at 12:02

Just seen the images of Talgarth hospital here- http://www.derelictplaces.co.uk/main/showthread.php?t=21037

WAW! Diolch Rhi.

Anyone else got any suggestions?

Comment by Bethan Marlow on April 29, 2012 at 11:51

Thanks Rhiannon, I'll do some research this this week. Hope all is good with you and thanks for your sentence, love it.

@john nice!

@matt - where's your sentence?!

Comment by Matt Ball on April 28, 2012 at 13:29

@rhiannon - thanks fo the Talgarth info - just looked at some photos of it & looks great.

@john - *groans at bad joke*

Comment by Rhiannon Cousins on April 28, 2012 at 13:08

Wow, what a great project - sounds very interesting and exciting. A place you might like to go and look at is the old hospital in Talgarth near Brecon. It's been closed for many years now  but was the place you went/were sent if you had mental health problems or did something socially unacceptable (eg were a pregnant teenager!!). I went there about 8 years ago  (just to look around I must stress, it was closed then - I wasn't sectioned or anything :)). I don't know what it's like now but back then it was such an amazing place, huge empty rooms, long corridors, paint peeling off everywhere, hanging from the ceilings - visually fantastic. It's dilapidation a visual metaphor for the troubled mind. I don't know that it would be a space you would be able to invite Joe public to now - worth asking though -  but it would definitely be inspiring. There are ghosts in them there walls...

Good luck with this project.

xR

PS Metal health is - what keeps everybody interesting

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