Popty Ping Productions has teamed up with Span Arts to produce a virtual community theatre project exploring the mental health impact of the pandemic. Performances will be available to live-stream, for free, on December 4th and 5th 2020 at 7:30pm. Tickets are free of charge but must be pre-booked at:
Founded by actor, mental health advocate and writer Ceri Ashe, Popty Ping Productions has collaborated with Span Arts, a community arts charity based in Pembrokeshire, to write and produce two new pieces of verbatim theatre. Ceri Ashe is the author and protagonist of the critically acclaimed, Off West End award-winning show ‘Bipolar Me’ which received a sell-out run at London’s ‘The Etcetera Theatre’ in October 2019 and again in Fishguard, Wales, in February 2020.
Inspired by weekly virtual storytelling workshops where participants have been sharing their experiences, struggles, and stories of lockdown, coupled with her own experience of living with bipolar, Ceri has penned the two new theatre pieces to explore the impact that the pandemic has had on the mental health of communities. Themes covered in both plays include isolation, loneliness, depression and alcoholism, highlighting the need for proper mental health support––issues that have been exacerbated for many this year.
In Making Bread & Babies, an eclectic group of creatives who have never met in real life, become the best of friends as they try to create a verbatim play online. A lonely, sexually frustrated, bipolar writer. A stressed out, furloughed Dad who will sign up to anything to get some peace from the kids! An unemployed London actor who’s accidentally signed up to a Welsh community theatre project! An out of work comedian who shares her best punch line yet, and the isolated birthday boy who loves this group as he’s been shielding alone since March.
Bara & Babanod (a bilingual Welsh and English play with subtitles) follows a day in the life of the Jones family’s zoom calls as they worry about the one sibling who isn’t in Maenclochog, Pembrokeshire, for the October firebeak lockdown.
This moving yet humorous show shines a light on the stress, worry and absurdity that lockdown restrictions place on family bonds. Including pre-recorded footage of the mystical Preseli hills, music from Pembrokeshire artist Paul Best, and live-streamed improvised theatre.
This project brings together a global cast and production team with professional actors from London & Cardiff (Izzy Gibb, Samuel Normington, Angharad Tudor), Pembrokeshire talent (Paul Best, Rebecca Ashe, Fflur Evans), volunteers from Span Arts (Kelvyn Lewis, Rhydian Watkins), director and script editor from California (Ami Lum) and Pembrokeshire film-maker (Jake Whittaker).
Founder of Popty Ping Productions, Ceri Ashe, commented:
“With one in five adults experiencing some form of depression during the pandemic, it is more important than ever to keep the conversation flowing around mental health. Whilst I am excited to be back creating art and finding new ways to tell stories as theatres remain closed, it is with a heavy heart that we still find ourselves in this dystopian situation. When we originally planned the project earlier this year, we expected to be reflecting on the pandemic and not still living through it.
“It’s not all doom and gloom, however. This opportunity has allowed us to work with people around the world – opening new virtual doors – that hopefully we will be able to capitalise on when we come out the other side. Through the project, we hope to bring some joy, hope and a few belly laughs to viewers as we all navigate our way through the new normal.”
Anna Sherratt, distance digital programme manager from Span Arts, noted:
“This project has given participants the opportunity to work with a writer and theatre facilitator who has direct experience of a mental health condition. This has encouraged our volunteers to openly share their experiences in a safe creative space where they felt heard and supported at a time when access to mental health support is limited.”
About Popty Ping Productions:
Instagram: @creative_ceri / @poptypingproductions Facebook: Popty Ping Productions
About Span Arts:
Facebook: @spanarts / Twitter: @SpanArts
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