‘Keep Holding my Hand’ goes on tour to Care Homes across Cambridgeshire

Keep holding my hand is an original play devised by people with and without mental health challenges who take part in Acting Now’s project Making Changes. Using theatre to reflect, explore and analyze the issues that affect them, Acting Now´s Artistic Director Marina Pallares-Elias has worked with the group to develop a collaborative script inspired by their own stories.

The play explores how positive experiences can be derived even from negative episodes, how lifelong friendship can counter hopelessness, and how it is essential that we join together to enable the voices of the vulnerable to be heard.

The play was presented last April in Corpus Playroom, having a really positive impact in the audience and actors.

People who attended the play spoke about their experience, expressing how valuable it was for them to get to know the actor’s stories to break stereotypes and reach a deeper understanding of mental health challenges:

 “I appreciated the fact that you took the inside perspective instead of the usual outside one”

“It was a chance to understand mental health from different perspectives”

“It was a really good portrait of mental health and a good way to change stereotypes”

 “I loved learning about what people with mental health problems actually go through”

 “It was an eye opener and it really touched me, I loved it”

 “I learned about the personal experiences of the actors and that there is positivity in mental health challenges”

 “It reflected the idea of having second chances and how society should be more open to this”

 “You give a voice to the invisible things, giving strength to weakening events, and an achievement of new skills”

 “Demystifying mental health issues”

 “Your strength is the confident and open way mental health issues were portrayed”

The audience experienced different feelings while watching the play, but for them all, it was a strong and impacting moment:

“True stories, so touched by the courage and generosity of the actors/actress for sharing their experiences”

“I used to be a cancer patient and I know how difficult it is to pull through the loneliness so I really appreciated this play”

 “I found some parts very moving; it must be very difficult to share some of those things with an audience”

 “Congratulation for the strength to share those experiences and feelings with us”

 “I was amazed by the impact of some difficult personal stories honestly told.”

 “Placing the experiences of those affected at the heart of the piece and the sense of closeness and care between the performers.”

  Listening stories always opens your mind and this definitely did. Also I could really connect with the actors and some of their experiences, because what was presented was universal and human”

 “I have had psychotic experiences and I think you have been courageous and generous in having these experiences”

 “Inspiring, sad, open, a space for empathy”

Keep holding my hand was praised for its artistic excellence and esthetic that connected feelings and high quality theatre.

“It was beautiful, explorative and authentic”

 “Beautiful continuity and inter-play between the 6 stories”

 “You are very professional and very strong”

 “I felt the freedom that people felt on the stage, the use of their bodies was amazing”

 “Being able to experience visually the true stories from people who have had mental health issues and seeing how they’ve come out the other side stronger and more empowered than before”

 “Excellent choice of wardrobe”

 “The intimacy and raw emotions shared by the actors, the story telling mixed with humor and difficult subjects performed in a very sensitive way. I also liked the connection between the stories. It was amazing”

 “Very beautiful personal description of mental challenges”

 “Very engaging and completely captivating, well done!”

  “Dealing with personal issues in a safe and fun environment, bravery and openness of actors, theatrical inventiveness”

 “Very good movements, dance and use of stage area. It really drew me in”

The play was also perceived as a growing project with a high potential to change people’s lives:

“People feeling empowered sharing stories from their lives”

 “Anyone can explore and find a sense of previous experiences through theatre”

 “Can’t wait for the next play”

 “We should support more projects like this”

 “It’s something new and different; I appreciated the idea of theatre for developing skills”

 “Close to the heart, a lived experienced, valuable experience for the actors, empowering, life changing”

‘Keep Holding My Hand’ will be performed on May 26th at Cambridge Manor Care Home as part of our initiative to fight social exclusion and bring cultural projects to people who have a difficult access to artistic experiences.

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