Guests of the Fake it ‘til you Make it Adelaide Fringe show at the Royal Croquet Club on the 17 February, a fundraising event for the Freemasons Foundation Centre for Men’s Health, did not go home disappointed. What a brilliant show; an honest, and at times funny, heart-wrenching and heart-warming account of a couple in love and tackling the ups and downs of living with clinical depression. It is not a surprise that it received 5 stars and was voted the winner of the best theatre at the Adelaide Fringe and the Fringe World Perth.
A Q&A was held after the show, lead by Theatre Works Director Daniel Clarke and included the artists, Bryony Kimmings and Tim Grayburn, and expert panellists Sonja Jankovic (Clinical Psychologist, Royal Adelaide Hospital /private practice), Professor Julio Licinio (Head of the Mind & Brain Theme, SAHMRI), and Professor Gary Wittert, Director of the Freemasons Foundation Centre for Men’s Health at the University of Adelaide. The Q&A was recorded by ABC and broadcast on Radio National the following day. The full Q&A is available at https://m.soundcloud.com/nwhiting/fake-it-til-you-make-it-qa-on-mental-health. During the Q&A, Prof Licinio stated that what was needed to impact on clinical depression and suicide which is 3.6 times more common in males than females, was a declaration of a “war on mental health” similar to the “war on cancer” that led to the signing of the National Cancer Act of 1971 by President Nixon. The latter lead to a large scale investment in research for cures and better drugs which made a significant impact on cancer survival and prevention. Otherwise, Professor Licinio added, very little will change as we are largely using the same treatments used 50 years ago. The panel also agreed that while a lot has been done to reduce the stigma of mental ill-health, particularly in males, we still have a long way to go as a society.
Fake it is now currently showing at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. If you are in Melbourne, the performance on March 20th will also be followed by a post-show discussion with CEO of Beyondblue, Georgie Harman. The Melbourne show will be a fundraising event for Foundation 49 Men’s Health.
Professor Wittert commented that theatre is an excellent way to connect with people. Collaboration between artists and scientists, particularly when it comes to difficult subjects, is an approach that could be used much more. Its particularly powerful when the “lived experience” is brought to the stage, such as was the case for Fake it.