You should read this page if…
- You are interested in putting on Mental Notes as a production (scroll down get to the production info and come back to the rest).
- You want to know more about how Mental Notes came into existence.
Any questions or to apply for a copy of the script please contact us at email@example.com OR via our Facebook page.
About Suitcase Theatre
Suitcase Theatre strives to produce theatre with heart, making connections and supporting our community. Starting out as a new theatre group in 2016 we were looking for something worthwhile to do.
All of our producers had worked with Eve Ensler’s “Vagina Monologues” before and we chose it as our first main bill production in 2016. With this production we started to develop our community of theatre makers, as well as building a relationship with “Stopping Violence Dunedin”, donating funds raised in support of the work they do in our community. In the following year we participated in V-Day again, this time producing the play “A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant and A Prayer”. This time we networked more with our community and worked in partnership with “Rape Crisis Dunedin” to provide support, again donating all funds raised.
We care about making a difference. Getting the word out there, however difficult the topic, to help survivors and develop a better community. Words working towards prevention and cure.
Perhaps its airy fairy to think that theatre can save the world. But to us, it helps.
Our next step
We have loved working with the V-Day productions, and contributing to the worldwide conversation around women’s rights, which has relevance everywhere. However…Eve’s plays are, unsurprisingly, American in voice and we were looking for something closer to home.
We still wanted to tell meaningful stories, but those with a more immediate connection to our own community.
Stories that otherwise may remain untold.
Stories that needed to be shared.
Sharing stories that might start a conversation to change a system, or at the very least remind people that they are not alone.
It became clear that we were going to write it ourselves…..
About Mental Notes
Mental Notes began its life as an amoeba of human experiences under the banner of “stories of the black dog”. In the middle of 2017 we began talking to friends and sharing our own experiences around mental health, carefully putting out feelers to our wider network for more stories. We were overwhelmed by the willingness of people to share, their bravery and eloquence and trust in us to share their words with integrity.
Creating Mental Notes was a true ensemble exercise. From contributors and editors to designers and actors, support crew and “theatre widows”.
In order to protect our contributors, the stories remain anonymous. This has also served to separate the perception of a person from the ‘truth’ of their experience, widening the opportunity for the audience to make connections with different experiences.
Each of our content contributors has given specific permission for us to share their story, both in our productions and in yours. Out of respect to our contributors any exceptions are not included within this script.
One exception to the anonymity of our contributors is Gretel Newman-Sugrue. As a novelist she has made significant contributions to the content of the play with her novella “BedLamb” (Publishing in 2019) and in the role of one of our editors.
We worked for months writing and re-writing, reading and feeding back and finally rehearsing and performing in Dunedin Fringe 2018 with a talented team of actors, musicians and crew.
Having sold out our “small but perfectly formed” season at Fringe, and given that the primary purpose of Mental Notes is to get the word out, we decided to do it again. Mental Notes 2.0 allowed us to revisit details we discovered in the first performance and refine some stories that weren’t ready for round one. We also enlisted a director.
Mental Notes 2.0 was a different beast, with a larger cast, new performers, a bigger theatre, and time to really polish what we had created. We are still finding things we want to fine-tune, but we can confidently say it’s ready to be out in the world – which leads us to you, who are presumably reading this because you are thinking about producing your very own Mental Notes.
In production it is crucial that you remember that this is someone’s life. Every experience in this script is true to at least one of our contributors.
These are Dunedin stories, but we are confident that you will find connections to your performers, crew and community regardless of where you are. Ultimately these are people stories.
Producing Mental Notes
These words are not ours, we are privileged to borrow them. With that in mind it is essential that no part of any monologue be changed, the details are important. If you’re not sure, run it by us. Exceptions to this are in names as specified later in these guidelines re gender of performers.
The weight of the words work on their own. We found a pared back approach to performance, honest and frank, to be the most effective. Creating high drama allows an audience member to separate their reality from a “theatre experience” while a “straight up” sort of conversation allows the reality of those words to really sink in. You make stronger connections this way.
We at Suitcase Theatre are strong believers in the power of a cup of tea.
The tea itself is wonderful of course, but the important part is taking a moment to process. We serve tea and cookies (lovingly baked and donated by some of our support crew) after all of our performances to create a buffer between what can be difficult content to process, and the outside world. Audience members have a chance to talk/ to share their experiences or ask for a hug or sometimes just to sit and think. It feels irresponsible to present an experience like this without providing a buffer, just in case. As theatre makers we did not feel equipped to take on this responsibility alone and had a support crew on hand. Our community connections (Life Matters, Suicide Prevention Trust) provided us with this both during and after our performances of Mental Notes. You may consider doing the same, or providing support/ a safety net in some other way.
A couple of requirements and then some thoughts that we had, which you may or may not find useful
- Arrange rights to produce this script via Suitcase Theatre Dunedin.
- Donate all profits made to a not for profit organisation doing good in your community.
- Prepare to support team and audience members who may be triggered by these stories (Get in touch if you are stuck on how to make this work).
- Choose the stories and a running order that suits your community – with the following requirements: You must use a minimum of the following pieces in the creation of your production (in any order):
Trigger Warnings, Anxiety, Gold Dog, Meds Again, History, Norm, & The final line from Bedlamb.
- If you have a performer capable of the role we strongly encourage you use OK So (Its a marathon, but well worth it).
- If you have musical talents/ access to musicians then you must use Forks n Spoons (Just too wonderful not to use).
Otherwise… we encourage you to play to the strengths of your performers and needs of your community – What topics are most important to you right now? What kinds of voices can your actors bring a truthful performance to?
We also encourage you to consider the arc of the journey you take your audience on. Performance order can make or break it. Ultimately you should leave your audience hopeful, there is a way out however dark the days may seem.
Staging – we performed with all actors and musicians onstage for the whole show (The musicians even played the pre-show music), you may wish to do the same or consider how you will keep entrances and exits slick and smooth. A set of monologues standing alone can easily become stagnant, look for opportunities for movement and comedy where you can (give your audience a chance to shift and catch a breath).
Timing – Our first performance came in under an hour, while our second was closer to 90 Minutes. The pieces in the script are arranged as we performed them in that second production.
But – you decide what works for you.
It’s difficult to decide what gets left out of a set of such precious stories, but for the sake of your audience we think the sweet spot is closer to an hour with no interval.
An interval encourages conversation (Which we love) but its not something you want to cut short in order to continue with the play, we prefer to have this as an open ended “tea and a biscuit” at the end of the show, which also allowed our performers to mingle with the crowd.
Age and Gender of performers – The basic statistics of our storytellers is deliberately not specified. You may decide that a piece is older or younger but we prefer that the voice of an actor take a bigger role in your casting than the origin of a story. Likewise the gender identity. There are several names in ensemble pieces, but none of these are critical and any can be altered where you see fit. There are only three monologues with specific gender cues. In “Clinical trial” the speaker is named John, but you could easily alter the name for a female performer. The only critical consideration of sex arises in “My first dance, which uses cues from a female experience of puberty, and “I lost my mind” which, as it deals with pregnancy, should be performed by someone who could conceivably have a uterus.
Ultimately the goal is to find truth. If your actor can find a truthful performance in a piece then their age and gender are irrelevant.
For a copy of the script or if you have any questions – Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org Or chat with us on Facebook.
- Suitcase Theatre Dunedin.
Mental Notes – Contents page
Pieces include monologues, group pieces, poems and a song.
It is essential that you use the required pieces as specified in the notes above, but the order, and what else you use, is up to you. It is essential that each piece be performed in its entirety and without change, unless previously specified. If you wish to add additional material from your own network this must be approved by Suitcase Theatre Dunedin before rehearsals begin.
Content is listed as performed in Mental Notes 2.0, for Mental Health Awareness Week, October 2018
BedLamb indicates short snippets from the novella by Gretel Newman-Sugrue. They depict an experience staying in a mental institution. These pieces are often abbreviated in the script as BL.
- Trigger Warnings
- 3 Causes
- My First Dance
I Lost my mind Pt 1
I lost my mind Pt 2
- Gold dog
- Late night EPS
- Dear Sir
- Tangata Whaiora
- Meds again
- Bearing the Heavens
- Clinical trial
- Ok So
- Forks & Spoons
- Blue Skies