STRESS

Awake // Miranda Colmans

Sleep: we all need it and most of us probably think we don’t get enough. But what is it like to get a bad night of sleep, day after day, week after week, month after month? Awake, by Miranda Colmans, explores this. Told through a series of characters who find themselves awake in the middle of the night and come together in an online chat room, Colmans highlights the difficulties experienced by people with chronic insomnia.

Around 6-10% of the adult population will meet the clinical criteria for insomnia disorder, which requires at least 3 nights a week of poor sleep, for at least 3 months, causing significant distress or impairment to daytime functioning. Colmans portrays not just the exhaustion that is experienced by successive nights of little sleep, but also the frustration and loneliness that people experience being awake while everyone else is asleep.  Starting off with the at times comical side of the often conflicting advice and strategies offered to get to sleep, like trying to relax for the third time that night. 

Colmans leads us down a path of the increasing frustration and loneliness her character’s experience to the onset of mental health problems. Insomnia is a recognised risk factor for the development of depression and commonly occurs alongside many mental health conditions.  Colmans’ portrayal of a single mum as she tries to cope with a new baby on little or no sleep, eloquently demonstrates how things can quickly unravel. The onset of insomnia is not uncommon during or shortly after pregnancy and can be linked with the development or exacerbation of post-partum depression. This is a very vulnerable time for many new mothers and fathers, especially for those with little or no support. Sleep is often low on the list of priorities but more needs to be done to ensure that we give sleep the time it deserves. Work like Colmans’ bring sleep to centre stage, recognising the importance of sleep in all of our lives. 

- Kate Porcheret

 

Links relevant to this diagnosis:

Awake - Miranda Colmans

Scientific Review of Chronic Insomnia - The Lancet

Why Do We Sleep? - Russell Foster (TED Talk)

Having Trouble With Your Sleep? - Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences

SHARP EDGES / Amelia Sweetland

SHARP EDGES / Amelia Sweetland

Sharp Edges (written and performed by Amelia Sweetland) is an intense exploration of female mental illness. Filmed sequences and voiceover showing Sophie at home are used to break up a series of sessions Sophie has with the therapist her GP sends her to when she complains of insomnia. Slowly, Sophie's past and Sophie herself start to unravel.

ELEPHANT OF MY HEART / Prospero Theatre

ELEPHANT OF MY HEART / Prospero Theatre

There’s a long and rich interplay between meditation and the arts, including music and artworks including the ancient Indian tradition of mandalas. But bringing meditation into conventional theatre is a little more unusual. ‘Elephant of my Heart’ is a stage adaptation of Jessica Clements’ book of the same name: Clements herself even performs in the show’s chorus. It’s a memoir of her time in hospital recovering from a brain haemorrhage as a nine year old child. She believes that the inner travels she went on, guided by an elephant, triggered her healing process. 

MONOLOGUES OF A TIRED NURSE / Theatre for Thought

MONOLOGUES OF A TIRED NURSE / Theatre for Thought

Stress-related mental health problems affect one in five primary care workers. Four in five have trouble sleeping. These are the realities of working in today’s NHS, according to mental health research by Mind, and they form the backdrop to Monologues of a Tired Nurse.

(I COULD GO ON SINGING) SOMEWHERE OVER THE RAINBOW / FK Alexander

(I COULD GO ON SINGING) SOMEWHERE OVER THE RAINBOW / FK Alexander

The volume of this work is at the level of trembling clothes. An affective noise that moves bodies and governs the internal rhythms of an audience to match its ritual of dialogue balladry. The singer is standing in a washed-out strobe aurora with a mic lead coiled in her punk rock grip, hand-in-hand with one from the crowd. The crowd let it lull them into a meditative state.

DON'T PANIC! IT'S CHALLENGE ANNEKA / on the button

DON'T PANIC! IT'S CHALLENGE ANNEKA / on the button

A solo comedy show in which writer and performer Sophie Winter plays all the parts, including her boss, her mum, her best friend and 90s TV star Anneka Rice, Don't Panic! It's Challenge Anneka is all about anxiety. It uses humour and silliness to demystify and start conversations about a serious subject.