Brand new play tackles the stigma around mental health

It’s not very often that David Bowie and the Bay City Rollers get mentioned in the same breath.

But they both feature in the soundtrack of the central character’s life in Butterfly, a brand new play tackling the stigma around mental health at Stockton’s ARC on Tuesday 1 March.

Written and directed by Saltburn based Vici Wreford-Sinnott, the darkly funny one-woman play stars Jacqueline Phillips, who has previously appeared in Emmerdale and TV crime dramas George Gently and Vera.

Vici, who has carved a successful career in ground-breaking theatre, said: “Butterfly is a play about the history of stigma and, never more relevant than in today’s climate, it tackles the stigma surrounding mental health absolutely full-on.

“Beatrice is the play’s central character, and all she ever wanted was a quiet life. She loved Bowie and the Bay City Rollers back in the day.

“But now, sitting in isolation, waiting for the outcome of a forced mental health assessment, she revisits a personal history she can only just remember – and wonders how it all came to this?

“Beatrice is the unlikely heroine in an everyday story, but she has a secret. She can travel back through time itself, and all without a tardis!

“And Beatrice is faced with a very big question; could or should she alter the course of history to challenge and change how stigma has developed through the ages?”

Vici has always championed equality and challenged discrimination and prejudice in her work, and her new play is supported by ARC’s Cultural Shift Programme funded by the Spirit of 2012.

And audience members can decide how much they’d like to pay for a ticket after seeing the play as part of ARC’s innovative Pay What You Decide theatre programme.

As with her critically acclaimed 2015 ARC production of The Art of Not Getting Lost, Vici’s new play is again partly based on her own experiences.

Vici said: “We live in a so-called enlightened age, but people with mental health problems continue to be demonised.

“There have been severe cuts across all mental health services over the last few years, and we’re now living in a time of forced austerity, mass redundancies and job losses that unfortunately almost always lead to an increase in the number of people experiencing poor mental health.

“And, as we see on a daily basis, people simply too ill to work are having their benefits either brutally slashed or stopped entirely.

“I’m passionate about the power of the arts to bring about change, whether at a rate of one small step at a time or in huge leaps, but the time has come to say enough is enough and to set the record straight!

“You really think we could treat each other much more compassionately in this day and age.”

Butterfly: Tuesday 1 March. 1.30pm & 7pm. Starring Jacqueline Phillips. Written & Directed by Vici Wreford-Sinnott. Both performances BSL interpreted by Caroline Ryan. Tickets: Book in advance, then Pay What You Decide after seeing the play. 

Image credit: Stuart Boulton