Birmingham’s acclaimed BEDLAM ARTS AND MENTAL HEALTH FESTIVAL, which aims to raise awareness of mental health and well-being through the importance of the arts, returns for its 5th edition running over ten days from Friday 12th November – Sunday 21st November 2021.
The festival, performed in venues and spaces across the city, presents a diverse programme of world premieres, visual art and film, as well as powerful live performance through theatre, spoken word, dance, and music.
The festival is organised by Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust, Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Midlands Arts Centre, Red Earth Collective and Sampad South Asian Arts & Heritage in consultation with practitioners and those with lived experience of mental health problems.
Highlights include the brand new commission The Walls Between Us produced by Sampad South Asian Arts and Heritage and written by Farrah Chaudhry (15th – 21st Nov touring to communities) brings to the stage researched, personal experiences of Covid-19, looking at issues of grief, mental health and how different generations find ways to connect. When the pandemic hits, the Jamils are all affected in their own way. Rahil, a key worker, decides to self-isolate in his room to protect his elderly mother, Fazeela who is struggling with the speed at which lockdown has been enforced and being cut off from her family and friends. Rahil’s daughter is stuck at home, unable to go back to university. Will the Jamils pull together to help each other out through these difficult times? Or will they allow for the pandemic to push them apart?
Artist Aiden Moesby features new works in a group exhibition at Midlands Arts Centre: our lives have been altered in the face of the pandemic, accelerating fundamental change to our social, cultural and working experience. It invites us to reflect upon this era of rapid transformation by reconsidering a diverse selection of art through a new pandemic lens. Co-curated with seniors from MAC’s Culture Club, the exhibition examines how these artists have represented change in an often complex world and how opportunities for social and cultural renewal can emerge out of the crisis.
The Red Earth Collective will be hosting a series of STEREO HYPE workshops for over 18’s from African or African Caribbean heritage who have a lived experience of mental health challenges or are a carer. Participants must be interested in drama, song, writing or spoken word. The workshops will create a performance piece which will premiere at the Festival. To register contact the firstname.lastname@example.org
Further highlights include a collaboration with Shout Festival to present a one-off performance of Women & Theatre’s Looking Back, Moving Forwards (Sun 14 Nov Loft Lounge). An entertaining collection of monologues reflecting the experiences of older LGBT+ people from Birmingham, reflecting and celebrating the progress this generation was responsible for.
Developed from research, the piece looks back to the past, at how things were for people coming out, going out, at work and with family; drawing connections with their experiences now. The performance will be followed by a discussion facilitated by W&T’s Artistic Director Janice Connolly (aka Mrs Barbara Nice) which make connections with the experiences of younger LGBT+ people today.
Belfast based Spanner in the Works who bring their acclaimed production Buttercup to Birmingham (Irish Centre, Kings Heath 12 Nov). Written and directed by Patricia Downey it spans the last four decades of life in Northern Ireland; Matt Gurney’s adaptation of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Tue 16 Nov STUDIO AT THE REP – BSL) follows the arrival of a rebel deaf patient on the ward of a mental hospital – a metaphor for deaf oppression will give hearing audiences an understanding of the silent world and thought provoking conversation; comedy and spoken word mixes with Matt McGuinness and The MLC’s indie rock n roll. Stories from politics to football to suicide – all laced with honesty, humour and heartfelt reflection (MAC Café 13 Nov).
There will also be FREE performances including Aidan Moesby: I was Naked, Smelling of Rain (Sun 21 Nov Foyle Studio MAC) an evening of life affirming storytelling about loneliness and disconnectedness. Created by Aidan Moesby, an artist, curator and writer who explores civic and personal wellbeing through work that is playful, intimate, questioning and deeply human. And Without Shape Without Form presents Art of the Mind followed by a Q&A. This panel discussion connects art, spirituality and mental wellbeing through the exploration of the mind. Panelists include Sikh artist Kanwar Singh, ex Vogue/Dazed creative and the curator of Journey of the Mind Deep Kailey, along with a local Birmingham artist (Thu 18 Nov, STUDIO AT THE REP).
In April 2021 MIND published a survey from almost 12,000 people across England and Wales about their experiences over the past year. MIND says Of those surveyed ‘two thirds (65%) of adults and more than two thirds (68%) of young people with mental health problems say their mental health has got worse since the first national lockdown. Nearly half (46%) of those adults and over half (51%) of those young people said that their mental health has got much worse since the beginning of the first national lockdown in March 2020.’
Rosin Fallon- Williams, Chief Executive of Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation: “These findings show the profound effect the COVID-19 pandemic has had on our mental health, with many people experiencing mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression for the first time.
It is something we have been very aware of, and we continue to support both our existing service users, those new to our services and also our colleagues throughout what is still a challenging time for many.
I welcome the opportunity to support BEDLAM for another year- it is a chance to enjoy and experience an amazing festival, as well as to increase knowledge and understanding of mental health.”
Sabra Khan BEDLAM Festival Director said “It has been proven that performing arts have a great impact on people’s mental health combatting depression, overcoming anxiety and helping with emotional release. So, after what has been an incredibly tough 18 months for all of us we are delighted that we can present the 5th edition of the BEDLAM ARTS AND MENTAL HEALTH FESTIVAL and look forward to welcoming audiences to an exciting ten days of events and performances in the city.”
Tickets for BEDLAM Arts and Mental Health Festival, which runs from Friday 12th November – Sunday 21st November 2021 are available via the event venue. Prices start from as little as £5. There are also a number of free events.
For the full programme line up please go to www.bedlamfestival.co.uk