Tonight’s the Night: ‘King’

About a month ago, I created a short called ‘King’:

Now in his thirties, Man conjures up three younger versions of himself – Mini, Midi and Maxi – to explore the worst decision he ever made.

For the next three nights, Girls Like That will be performed at the Traverse Theatre in collaboration with the Lyceum Youth Theatre company, with readings of new work written by past and present Traverse Young Writers performed alongside the main event. The piece itself will be performed by an all teenage female cast, while the readings were created for and will be performed by an all teenage male cast.

As well as another writer, Clare Daly and her piece ‘Disappointments’, I help kick off the three nights with my piece, ‘King’, in about three hours time!

The basis for ‘King’ began as a true story about a friend of mine and a very tumultuous period of time in his life i.e. his teens. With his permission, I used the backbone of this hellish episode, honed in on one particular aspect of it, and essentially fictionalised it as far away from his own reality as I possibly could. The aspect in question? Mental health.

While the conversation around mental health and well-being has greatly improved, there is still a long way to go to stop children carrying trauma with them into adulthood. The sooner it is dealt with, the brighter their future. My piece, however, is about what happens when you don’t and, worst of all, keep quiet about it. When you blame yourself for your actions, and not of those who should have known better. When those who should have known better didn’t, and placed that blame at your feet.

Mental health has vastly improved, even within the last decade. More and more, we are getting to a point where elements of our identity being different to the ‘norm’ is moving out of living memory, almost like dial-up internet and flip-phones. And that is a good thing. But the same immediacy cannot always have the same impact for those who didn’t have that childhood, or that level of access to help. All this progress benefits us all, but even someone in their mid-twenties (my age) is still just outside that change in the tide – is it any wonder, then, that there are people late in life coming to terms with things they have suppressed for fifty or eighty years?

Obviously the above is a very simplistic view on an incredibly complex issue, but I hope that gives a quick insight into where this piece came from. I’m very excited for tonight, and what the casts have in store for us. Break a leg!

Having never done so, I think this year I’m going to start posting the why behind any of the work that I do, a) because I want to be, but b) because I think it may massively help my process. I’ll update this with a little more substance after the show – typed this up with no edit!

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