New West Sussex theatre company will tackle mental health issues

Vicky Paine
Vicky Paine

A new Storrington-based theatre company is committing itself to exploring mental health issues.

Chalkpath is offering its first show, Caryl Churchill’s Love and Information at three West Sussex venues, after which artistic director Vicky Paine will be deciding which way the company’s future lies.

The company makes its debut with performances on:

Tuesday, July 9 at The Timber Barn, Hardham Mill, Pulborough, RH20 1LA

Saturday, July 13, Thakeham Village Hall, 1 Abingworth Crescent, Thakeham, RH20 3GW

Wednesday, July 17, Southlands Barn, Southlands Farm, Southlands Lane, West Chiltington, RH20 2JU.

Vicky says she has chosen the Churchill as a piece which lends itself to flexible interpretation.

“The structure is a series of vignettes which convey a myriad of characters struggling with a sense of disassociation and a variety of mental health issues.

“It is a thought-provoking piece, not without humour, and we hope that it will raise awareness and activate conversation.

“The style is contemporary, physical theatre combined with a real sense of truth embedded within the characterisation.

“Come and see it!

“It will entertain and have meaning.

“I was a drama teacher for many years, and I left to do an MA in theatre directing at GSA last year and now I am working for the CFT doing lots of different projects for them.

“I am doing a devising class and also we are going into deprived schools.

“I am also going to be doing Macbeth workshops with GCSE and A level students.

“But I wanted to set up my own company.”

Specifically – for family reasons – a company committed to looking at mental health issues.

“What we are going to do, moving forward, is set up a community theatre group or possibly a youth group and open it to anybody in the community that wants a vehicle to express these issues.

“But at the moment I have got a bunch of ex-students of mine that have all suffered a mental health issue, from the The Weald School in Billingshurst where I taught for nine years.

“They all went through A level with me. They are all quite experienced in performance.”

Vicky has brought in a professional to ensure that they are dealing with the mental health aspects appropriately.

“And the great thing about Churchill’s Love and Information is that it is very flexible in terms of how we interpret it.

“It is a lot of scenes. It is very episodic.

“Each is a vignette, and we are able to focus on the scenes that are appropriate for what we are wanting to say.

“And I also thought it would be good to take theatre to rural areas.”

As for the new company’s title, Vicky explains that Chalkpath comes with a double meaning, referring to the South Downs but also conveying a sense of journey. The name therefore conveys both the new company’s location and also its sense of purpose, Vicky says.

Vicky will be starting a community theatre group in Thakeham village hall from September; first she just needs to decide whether it is going to be just for young people or whether she is going to open it up to the wider community.

Tickets for the debut shows are available on chalkpaththeatre@gmail.com.

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