The Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival (SMHAFF) is 10! Taking place in venues across Scotland, SMHAFF – which starts today, and runs until the end of the month – aims to use the arts in order to challenge preconceived ideas about mental health.
Even in a country that punches above its weight, creatively speaking, SMHAFF always manages to provoke, challenge and delight with a diverse programme across every strand of the arts: music, dance, film, theatre, visual art and plenty of opportunities for attendees to get involved.
With today being World Mental Health Day, it’s as good an opportunity to remind you those of you reading this who live with a mental health condition that you are not alone. I can tell you that for a fact, since I’m one of you: a survivor, every day, of anxiety and depression. I’m weaning myself off medication again and rediscovering all sorts of things about myself – like the sheer number of times I’m moved to tears on a daily basis. Feelings, man. They do my head in.
With over 300 events making up this year’s SMHAFF programme, I wouldn’t blame you for feeling overwhelmed – so here is a last-minute guide to five shows worth catching between now and the 31st. Browse the whole programme on the festival website, and let me know your picks in the comments!
TONIGHT! Felicity Ward: 50% More Likely to Die, CCA Glasgow
Fresh off her critically-acclaimed run at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe (five stars in The List!), comedian Felicity Ward brings her fresh, funny autobiographical show about her own struggles with anxiety and mental health to Glasgow for one last Scottish date. Tickets available from the CCA box office.
Thursday, 13th October: Borderline with improvised live score, CCA Glasgow
Borderline is a silent film from 1930, directed by the Scottish filmmaker Kenneth Macpherson and starring the poet HD (aka Hilda Doolittle) and performer/civil rights activist Paul Robeson (above). The film was renowned as being ahead of its time, using avant-garde techniques to represent inner psychological states. It was also groundbreaking at the time for its progressive treatment of race and sexuality. The screening will be accompanied by an improvised live score by Rick Anthony and Duncan Marquiss of The Phantom Band. Tickets available from the CCA box office.
Friday, 14th October: The Flint & Pitch Revue, Bongo Club, Edinburgh
Flint & Pitch is the new cabaret-style revue show from Jenny Lindsay, one half of the fabulous and much-missed Rally & Broad. This one-off edition will explore mental health by way of spoken word, solo theatre, live lit and music from the likes of Harry Giles, Finn Le Marinel, Jo Mango, writer and performer Hannah Lavery and author and journalist Chitra Ramaswamy. Tickets available via Eventbrite.
17th October – 5th November: One Thinks of it All as a Dream, various venues
A witty, poignant new play from one of Scotland’s brightest writer/director duos, Alan Bissett and Sacha Kyle (Ban This Filth, The Pure, The Dead and the Brilliant), One Thinks of it All as a Dream stars Euan Cuthbertson as Syd Barrett around the release of Pink Floyd’s psychedelic masterpiece The Piper at the Gates of Dawn. Bissett excels at breathing new life into stories you think you already know, so this is definitely recommended even if you’re not a fan of the music. Catch the play at Oran Mor, Glasgow; Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh; and The Lemon Tree, Aberdeen.
Thursday, 20th October: She Is Fierce “Wonderland” workshop, The Great Hall, Edinburgh Castle
A themed workshop aimed at young female creatives from the team behind She Is Fierce, an Edinburgh-based alternative magazine for teens. Free to attend, but advanced booking probably advisable.
27th October: Edinburgh Carers Council ‘Music Matters’ concert, Electric Circus, Edinburgh
A three-piece acoustic set from Glasgow’s Admiral Fallow headlines the annual Edinburgh Carers Council concert, followed by DJs running into the night. Edinburgh’s The Cathode Ray and Jo Mango are also on the bill, with additional support and a guest DJ still to be confirmed. Tickets available from the Electric Circus box office.
For more on these and hundreds of other events throughout Scotland, visit the SMHAFF website.
Thanks to SMHAFF for use of the photos. Felicity Ward’s amazing press shot is by Andy Hollingworth; while the One Thinks of it All as a Dream publicity photo of Euan Cuthbertson as Syd Barrett was by Jannica Honey.