Donegal theatre company takes pioneering production on the road

Bread and Roses' mental health roadshow aims to challenge stigmas

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Donegal theatre company takes pioneering production on the road

Cassie Riggs in a scene from "Navy Blues", from "Waving, not Drowning". Photo Rik Walton

Bread and Roses Theatre Company is bringing their pioneering production, “Waving, not Drowning, The Mental Health Roadshow” to secondary schools, theatres and community venues on both sides of the border.

”Waving, not Drowning”, a montage of short plays, sketches and songs that aim to challenge stigmas and stereotypes sometimes associated with issues of mental health, received a standing ovation when it premiered at An Grianán Theatre in Letterkenny in November.

The Donegal-based Bread and Roses is now bringing their show on the road, with performances scheduled for the Abbey Arts Centre in Ballyshannon on February 4th; at the Alley Arts Centre in Strabane on February 18th; at the Strule Arts Centre in Omagh on March 3rd; at the Playhouse in Derry on March 10th; and at the Balor Arts Centre in Ballybofey on March 23rd.

The theatrical experiment was initiated and organised by Mark McCollum, Kathleen McCreery and Tanya McLaughlin of Bread and Roses Theatre Company, and facilitated by Kathleen.

“We wanted to take it on the road and make sure people could see it," Mark said.

The production includes pieces that address 10 different themes, such as depression, social isolation and postnatal depression, among others. The theatre company had conducted extensive research before writing the piece, speaking with people throughout mental health services, including medical and mental health professionals and service users themselves.

“We started with a blank page over a year ago and got people together,” Mark said. “We started researching, started talking and things began to emerge.

“W​hat started to emerge through this process were these different stories, these different themes,” he said. 

The cast of “Waving, not Drowning” includes Aoife Toner, Michael Devlin, Ronan Carr, Cassie Riggs and Anne Gallagher.

The production can be tailored to accommodate different venues and groups through including some or all of the theatrical pieces that had made up the original performance, Mark said.

“Because each of the 10 pieces stands on its own, we can take pieces out and it still works together,” he said.

Any school, organisation or venue that would like to bring “Waving, not Drowning” to their location can contact Mark on 087 995 9345.