Fair Play to Theatre

This year we were delighted to host a post-show discussion with artist Diana Varco on her Fringe show ‘Shattered’, which talks about her experiences of mental health, stigma and trauma recovery.

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Mental health was a hot topic at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe — both on and off stage. Every year performers do an amazing job of sharing their experiences of mental health to encourage open and honest conversation and tackle stigma.

This year we were delighted to host a post-show discussion with artist Diana Varco on her show ‘Shattered’, which talks about her experiences of mental health, stigma and trauma recovery.

To tell us more, Social Movement Officer Maeve went to watch the show and co-host the audience talkback after the performance.

Shattered — Diana Varco

In this funny, powerful and moving one-hander Diana Varco inhabits 35 characters which form different aspects of her personality, for example Shame is represented as a monstrous figure, taunting Diana over her most painful experiences; Security is swaggering and streetwise; Honesty is nerdily precise. The show follows the messy journey of recovery that follows Diana’s survival of a rape through her inhabiting these different personas.

Shattered is a great example of how theatre can work as a tool to break down mental health stigma, both by helping to confront the performer’s own self-stigma through the character of Shame. And by allowing the audience to gain an insight into how the effects of trauma can play out over years, and what recovery might look like.

“When I speak to my friend who is struggling with her mental health and hear how she is beating herself up I tell her, ‘think about how you would talk to me, if I was telling you these things; you would be trying to reassure me and build me up, not trying to knock me down.’ We would never speak to someone else the way we sometimes speak to ourselves when we are feeling our worst. We should speak to ourselves the way we would speak to a friend” — Donna Wilson, Community Champion and talkback participant.

Diana invited See Me to come co-host and audience talkback after the performance. We were joined by performers from Suicide Pact and XOXO Moongirl, other shows in this year’s Fringe exploring similar topics. We discussed the particular role theatre has in telling our stories and how ‘showing rather telling’ can sometimes resonate most effectively with an audience. The performers shared how struck they were by the number of people who had approached them after their performances to say they had felt something similar and thought they were the only one. In a sense through shows like Shattered performers are working on behalf of whole group of people who may be unable to fully share their own unique personal story with others, but are helped to feel less alone and better understood by the articulation of this one.

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Scotland's national programme to end mental health stigma and discrimination.

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