As Skye Loneragan makes her return to The Stove on Saturday 25th June 2022 with her solo performance, Though This Be Madness, Skye tells us all about the play and how it came to fruition, following her own journey in new parenthood alongside the challenges of coping with mental illness within her family.
“I am looking forward to returning to Dumfries & Galloway this week. I remember performing Though This Be Madness in its early days, before it was Covid-cancelled, at The Stove. An audience member emailed me in the days after the show, about L.O.I.P (Loved Ones In Pain) which I talk about in the show, words I cherish as they remind me why we have a response sanctuary at the end of the show, and put soft toys on the seats:
“There were so many points of traction and heart-opening in your performance, more than I can sum up here… So much discourse focuses on the person experiencing the crisis, and of course they should be at the centre, but for those of us holding and caring and witnessing and having our hearts just about ripped out of us in the process, it doesn’t often feel like there’s space for that… My heart was moved tonight in a way I didn’t quite expect… Thank you for making this kind of pain and process visible, I really appreciate it, and want you to know how important this work is.”
Someone else shared with me their own resonances after the performance, and helped me find my where I’d parked the hire car. They allowed me to record their spoken word:
“Basically it was about my life… the insight in that show was amazing… for somebody who has seen both sides, as a worker and as a patient, I think that was the most honest, actually complimentary almost, portrayal of mental health I’ve ever seen. I don’t know Skye’s background, I don’t know if she has actually been locked up with her rights removed, but if she hasn’t, respect to her because I don’t know anybody who could write something like that who hasn’t actually seen it from the inside.“
I share these words with you (with permission) because so many people are juggling so much. Staying afloat, letting alone seeing a theatre show, can be a huge task which can take a lot of energy, never mind the energy it takes to look after yourself and allow your own creative quest to take flight.
What can you expect from Though This Be Madness?
I had started writing Though This Be Madness before I had a baby, initially toying with ‘diagnosing’ Shakespeare’s female leads. Once I had my sought-after wee one, I had to try and write it in snatches of baby sleep and found I literally could not… finish a sentence.
The show begins with, “she’s down, but she doesn’t sleep lying down, so we may not have long”. A new mature-age mum, I spent hours trying to get my baby to snooze by walking her in the harness or bouncing her on the Pilates ball… I was so on the ball.
My own sleep never made it past a two-hour stretch, for years. I don’t know how people do it, stay functional despite sleep-deprivation. I managed to script tiny segments: ‘Grasp’, “fish-hook’, ‘Ophelia’, ‘The Bits You Don’t Get Back’, ‘Activated Macadamias’….and each of these has a little nut of truth in it and a curly question about how we nurture our collective sanity.
Post-natal, I was also trying to make sense of the debilitating mental health crises of close family members and those I love dearly. So, the play became a fractured fiction and an honest attempt to reach you with a tale that isn’t about parenting at all, but is scuppered by that very context:
“Once upon a Time… I Don’t Have Time…”
I also remember feeling terrified of leaving the house in case she’d cry. Would we make it? So I knew I wanted to make an adult show for parents or carers with babes-in-arms. The story will follow the same route but if your baby cries that’s ok, if you need to come or go, feed them – that’s fine too. I will take a pause if that’s what is needed, and one audience member told me this was needed:
“I really appreciated having something cultural to go to…aimed at us parents but accommodating our babies….it’s depressingly rare”
The show has dug itself deeper for me during the pandemic, through the cancellations, the home-not-schooling, the caring for loved ones – it became a digital version, Though This Be (online) Madness!.
Though This Be Madness is a 72-min piece without an interval. At the end we host a 15-min ‘post-show sanctuary’… a space to allow your response to the show to surface… and find some form of expression before heading home.
Not all stories wrap themselves around a beginning, a middle and an end. New motherhood doesn’t afford the time for that kind of structure. Though This Be Madness is an inventive and darkly humorous story of many sisters that delves into the combined challenges of new parenting alongside loved ones struggling with psychosis and depression.
In this fractured fiction told through poetry and performance, with a musical score co-created by Mairi Campbell, we meet a recovering mum bouncing on a Pilates ball in The Land of the Lounge Room. Determined to soothe her baby and ‘stay on the ball’, she tries finish her sentence and tell us how she is unable to reach her sister Ophelia, who wrestles with a cataract on what Shakespeare calls the ‘mind’s eye’.”
Though This Be Madness takes place at The Stove on Saturday 25th June at 7.30pm. Tickets are £5 and can be booked by clicking here.