a good good thing

Reasons to Stay Alive

October 07, 2019 Neil Thornton + Jack Ratcliffe Season 1 Episode 11
a good good thing
Reasons to Stay Alive
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a good good thing
Reasons to Stay Alive
Oct 07, 2019 Season 1 Episode 11
Neil Thornton + Jack Ratcliffe

Reasons To Stay Alive is the bestselling memoir of author Matt Haig that relives Matt's battle with depression and anxiety. The book starts where it all almost ended, on a cliff top in Ibiza and charts his road to recovery. Since it's publishing, the book has become a reference point for conversations about anxiety and depression and their effects. It launched a public conversation around mental health and how we navigate it in a modern world. The book has now been turned into a play, which is touring the UK offering a new audience a way to connect that is both educating and validating. This week we're joined by the play's director, Jonathan Watkins, to talk about bringing Matt's story to the stage and why plays around often taboo topics are a good good thing. This episode contains some issues that people may find triggering, including topics of depression, anxiety and self harm. Keep up to date with us over on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter(@agoodgoodthing) and don't forget to rate, review and then subscribe so you don't miss the next episode.About your hostsJackA new media artist currently undertaking a PhD in virtual reality, Jack is motivated by the positive impact technology can have on our day to day lives both operationally and emotionally. Outside of PhDs and podcasting, Jack is a proud dad to three turtles and an ever-growing number of house plants.  Find Jack at @jacktionman on Instagram and TwitterNeilA digital content editor by day, Neil is also a men’s lifestyle blogger at whatneildid.com where he covers a range of topics from travel and style to health and mental well-being. You’ll never find him too far from a coffee.   Find Neil at @Whatneildid  on Instagram and Twitter 

Show Notes Transcript

Reasons To Stay Alive is the bestselling memoir of author Matt Haig that relives Matt's battle with depression and anxiety. The book starts where it all almost ended, on a cliff top in Ibiza and charts his road to recovery. Since it's publishing, the book has become a reference point for conversations about anxiety and depression and their effects. It launched a public conversation around mental health and how we navigate it in a modern world. The book has now been turned into a play, which is touring the UK offering a new audience a way to connect that is both educating and validating. This week we're joined by the play's director, Jonathan Watkins, to talk about bringing Matt's story to the stage and why plays around often taboo topics are a good good thing. This episode contains some issues that people may find triggering, including topics of depression, anxiety and self harm. Keep up to date with us over on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter(@agoodgoodthing) and don't forget to rate, review and then subscribe so you don't miss the next episode.About your hostsJackA new media artist currently undertaking a PhD in virtual reality, Jack is motivated by the positive impact technology can have on our day to day lives both operationally and emotionally. Outside of PhDs and podcasting, Jack is a proud dad to three turtles and an ever-growing number of house plants.  Find Jack at @jacktionman on Instagram and TwitterNeilA digital content editor by day, Neil is also a men’s lifestyle blogger at whatneildid.com where he covers a range of topics from travel and style to health and mental well-being. You’ll never find him too far from a coffee.   Find Neil at @Whatneildid  on Instagram and Twitter 

Neil:   0:09
Hey, everyone, it's Neil. I just wanted to jump in quick before we start to give you a heads up that we do touch on some subjects that some people may find triggering. So please do take a moment to check the episode notes before diving into this week's episode. But other than that, I hope you enjoy the episode and fear not. We've got a whole load of good vibes coming your way.  

Neil:   0:33
Jack, what do you know about anxiety and depression?  

Jack:   0:36
No much.  

Neil:   0:39
Okay, I was hoping for a little bit more banging and just go straight into my fax. So, according to mind, one of the UK's leading mental health organisations in the last national survey in 2016 approximately one in four people in the UK will experience mental health problems each year in England when six people report experiencing a common mental health problems such as anxiety and depression in any given week. What we also need to take in account, though, is that those numbers are through speaking to private residents and don't take into fact people living in hospitals, people in prisons or even the homeless. So it's actually a very small snapshot of potentially a much bigger problem. And so one of the common questions is, Is mental health and mental health issues increasing and according to mind, the actual number of people are suffering from mental health isn't increasing rapidly year on year. But what is happening is due to increased external pressures. People struggling to cope is increasing on the after effects of anxiety. Depression are increasing, such as so that is things like self harm on it is leading all the way up to attempted suicide on suicide. So, dear listener, you may be wondering why we're talking about anxiety and depression on a podcast about good news. And well, there is a simple answer, which is firstly and fundamentally, it is a good good thing to talk about. Talking about it raises stigma and could help people feel less isolated. And there is one man he's been incredibly vocal about. Mental health advocacy by sharing his own experiences. And that's the author Matt Haig, a 20 for mats world collapse under the weight of depression, and he almost took his own life. A three year battle with depression followed with panic and despair. Being daily struggles to the point where he struggled to even get to the corner shop alone. Matt wrote about his experiences in his memoir, Reasons to Stay Alive, which became a number one bestseller, staying in the British Top 10 for 46 weeks. The book begins where almost ended on a cliff edge in a bi tha and charts maps, Recovery and How We Learned to Live With Depression. The book has become a go to referencing conversations about living with depression and that went on to write notes on a nervous planet. A broader look at how modern life feeds our anxiety on what we can do to combat it and now, Reasons to Stay Alive is going on tour in a new play being produced by Sheffield Theatres on English Touring Theatre. The play's build is a celebration of what it means to be alive, and we're lucky enough to have the director of the show, Jonathan Watkins, in the studio with us today.

Jack:   2:58
We spoke to Jonathan about why you felt the need to bring these pages to the stage is sorry about that. The aspects of Matt's book that resonated with him the importance of recognising social support networks and his creative and practical protests in getting this uplifting book into theatres nationwide.  

Neil:   3:14
Jonathan, thank you so much for joining us today. I'm really happy to have you. I think kind of best place to start is to give us some background on you and how you ended up where you are today.

Jonathan Watkins:   3:24
Oh, well, I'm glad to be here. And thanks for inviting me. That's a massive question. I'll try. I'll try and bullet point it. I'm currently, I suppose I describe myself as a theatre maker, choreographer, director. I mean, it's kind of hard, isn't it, Till I know box yourself up. But the world kind of want you to identify us like these job titles. But my background is from dance on DH specifically ballet. So I left Bonds in South Yorkshire when I was 12 and went to the Royal Ballet School Board in school for seven years. And then I graduated into the Royal Ballet Company, which is in Covent Garden. The opera rile up house, and I danced and made and created ballets there for 10 years. But about six years ago, I just I just kind of felt like I just needed to get out of there and sort of craft and work in my own light rhythm with my own kind of like, passionate projects. And that's really what I try and do first and foremost. And so I start. Yeah, I started like about five years ago, creating Dance Theatre adaptations of books on DH. Working on some plays is like a movement director choreographer, but this project, reasons to stay alive, was really the first project that I really wanted to lead on and direct on DH and kind of like use all the skills I've learned so far Tow, try and convey Mats experiences with his own mental health difficulties.  

Neil:   4:51
So where does that? Where does this journey kind of initially start was a You decided that you wanted to work on and create this peace? Or is it one that someone approached you in the new became attached to

Jonathan Watkins:   4:59
No it was very like, led by me, Really. I read the book in 2050 on a mega bust Manchester, and it just really, like, appealed to me on a lot of different levels, really like firstly, the kind of truth that Matt offers throughout in these kind of journey over these kind of 3 to 4 years of, like, really intense challenges. But also I just love the way like it was just a couple of pages and then come page on something he'd learn along the way and like practical advice and witty elements and just like all over the place and really dynamic. And so I just read the book like everyone did a lot of people did in 2015 and so I've left it but was inspired by on DH. Then really, about two years ago, I'd realised some amazing projects that I'd wanted to do for, like, years on DH. I took myself off upstate New York to my friends, kind of Ah, lovely little place on my own for a week. And I just read loads of stuff and was on my own. And I was like, What do I want to do? Like what? The kind of things that I like I'm passionate about. I really tried to like take stock, and I had some people are asked me to do things and like commission Dunn's pieces, but I think I just like these things are really challenging to kind of get off the ground. So I just really needed to kind of get behind an idea. And I came back to the book and I started imagining it, really like how it would happen. I knew it definitely had to have, like, text and be a play, but with movement and music and sort of rely on all of that, really to kind of try and express what Matt's going through. I think what is amazing is like imagery and sort of expressing his his experiences in different ways and sort of that kind of led me to sort of the reimagining off while the imagining it off it into like a theatrical production. And once I did that for myself, I was like, Well, I need to see if this is possible So I just reached out to Matt like on email, like on his website. I mean, he's really great, obviously, on social media and yeah, contact difficult, you know? Yeah, he's brilliant. And so I I think I'm remembering this right, but I think I emailed him and just saw. I've said I've got this idea and to turn your book that's like so raw and honest about you with your mom and dad in your girlfriend's usually wife and and Yeah, so I kind of We just met up, and I started speaking about it a bit like like how I'm doing now. Um, and he came away from that meeting. So of saying I think he sent me an email saying, I think you've got You could create something grey on DH. Yeah, And then that kind of began the conversations about, like how we would do it.

Neil:   7:54
Really? I think that's one of the things that has intrigued me the most. When I first heard that the play was happening in the to your point about how the book is written, I'm very much like I consider myself a commuter reader. So I'm always doing it on my journey to and from work. Where is actually when I picked up reasons to stay alive because of the way it's written in quite short bursts? And then suddenly there's like, you know, you have, like, a list chapter, and then it goes back into pros. I did it the whole day, so it was actually I was kind of like having a culture that home started it. And it was because of that nature and it actually being quite sectional. I flew through it and I'm wondering how that then turns into a full narrative. Ah, whole play.

Jonathan Watkins:   8:33
Yeah. I mean, that's why I read it on a four hour coach journey to Manchester. Like, you know, there are other books cos available, obviously. Yeah. And so, like, yes, I think for me it's like the flow and the rhythm of the book that they always to me, appeared in, like, I want to say, like, three levels so well, like three dimensions really like one. The kind of narrative arc of like what Matt goes through, like from a beef there to basically now, like all when he wrote the book in, I Think, 2014. And so that kind of like narrative like what we call like the dramaturgical arc and like that, that's how it appeared to me. In scenes like this is the his activity and his experiences, so that can play out in scenes. Then the lists and the kind of kind of, ah, what depression says to you are things that people say Teo people with depression that they don't say in other, like life threatening situations, like, I kind of knew that they would like. I call them interjection so they like, interject the narrative arc of the play to kind of offer over to the audience and the people that are experiencing, like Mats Reflections. But also like how to be there for someone with depression and anxiety, like real practical advice and so that that is really what I wanted to do it like, I wanted to try and create a sort of four dimensional experience that someone could watch and be like, Oh, I've I've experienced that all that all that might help or I know someone And maybe this is I need to do that like maybe it could like, influence and kind of inspire people to behave in a certain way. And that's really what fear so good. If you can get it right. It's about like shedding light on dark areas of humanity that like we don't understand and I'm not saying like Matt's book doesn't really answer all of it, but it just offers up his experience

Neil:   10:36
that it's happening and it's a Connexion. Yeah, people relate to.

Jonathan Watkins:   10:39
Yeah, and I've always felt the the kind of clearest way to express the book is really just to follow the book in terms of Matt's own experiences on DH, like at the beginning of the book, I think I mean, it's not a direct quote, but he says something like Mine's go wrong in all sorts of ways, And I think it was really important for us to kind of present his his experiences and his kind of, um conditional look like equation of like how his mind went wrong and not to sort of go. This is how everyone should deal with it. But, you know, he offers some weapons. He calls them weapons, doesn't he? In the book. So I think I just wanted to create mats truth and people can take what they can or what they need from it. And the third level was the conversations across time that he present three times throughout the book. Any thought of, like we really took that. And so I've extrapolated into, like, a theatrical device really throughout the play. So Matt exists in our play as older maps and younger man an older Matt really kind of mentors younger Matt through his experiences. But throughout the play, younger Matt doesn't really know that that's his older self. He just thinks it's someone that's being through similar situations and experiences as him. So they're the kind of three levels like the experience that Matt goes through, the interjections and the things that are offered to the audience on this, like conversation over time, that wouldn't we all just love to have that? I mean, what would we say to our I'll just younger self are over yourself and I wrote an email to myself six years ago. Have you ever done that?

Neil:   12:22
No. I've seen it as a as a real common practise of helping process, kind of like like traumas and feelings.  

Jack:   12:29
And there's a website for it you can, like, write an email and it stores. It will send it back to you.

Jonathan Watkins:   12:33
That's what I did. I did. I did it like six years ago. Obviously thought I'm never going to forget about this. I did forget about it, and then I got it, and I was like, What's this? And then it was like I read the e mail and I was like that's exactly what I'd say to myself now, like nothing had changed. I was just, like, go for your things, like, you know, lead with passion. Did it like it? No, it's not changed. Really? So that was kind of good, but a bit disappointed. I e Emily from my like, Yeah, my own. My younger self gems. Yeah,

Jack:   13:04
I wanted. So you talk about how you chose this project and how you had, like, a variety of things you're thinking about, But this one was really what was resonated with you. You can tell us a bit about why Maybe this was your choice and maybe why I personally made such an impact for you.

Jonathan Watkins:   13:22
Yeah, I think that it was really down to the fact that I mean, like, I feel very fortunate to know I've experienced anything close to what Matt has gone through. That really appealed to me of like in terms of an idea for something toe share with an audience. It felt like this was this was not just putting on a play. This this had the kind of possibilities to, like help people as well. And so it was like one I mean I had I came up with many ideas on that week, but this kind of really fell legitimate and like the integrity of of, of what it could be on the drive like is kind of what made me keep going with their on DH. And so, like once I believed in it. And I believe that it had the potential to kind of not just entertain but provoke, thought and kind of helped people enough. A pragmatic advice. It I just felt like all of that was like, really important on DH. It kind of them became a front runner of, of like, the kind of leading work that I wanted Toa make. And so then on my journey, it was about finding the right co producers on theatres that that kind of I could see that potential and also understand my passion and understand the way that I was seeing it on DH. Therefore would allow me to kind of on trust me toe to do

Jack:   14:52
it. We're talking about those kind of initial intentions in putting it into a play. When you were thinking about the potential audience, Were you thinking Maura about honouring the people that had already read and loved the book on it being a new journey for them, or were you using is a tool to hit. Kind of like a new generation that may know read may not read the book but would engage with it in a play. Kind of. Did you have a specific aim of who you wanted to be speaking to you

Jonathan Watkins:   15:15
when you're doing it, I think the hope is always to appeal to as many people in as many different situations as possible. I think the things that you've mentioned, like like I wouldn't I would hope for, like all of those you know, I mean, because I think that what I would say is, when you adapt a book, you're adapting it for a reason and you're not saying this is instead of the book. But you're saying it's complementary to the book on DH. I totally get it that people are like, Oh, it's not as good as the book Oh, it's better than the book and that really isn't the intention. It's like it's too kind of honour. The book on to kind of put it into a different medium and experience I mean, we all read a book on our own relay or like listen to an audio book or actually, obviously, you could read to a group of them, but so I kind of thought it would be good to kind of have that shared live experience. If you've known if you know the book well, great, because she's seeing it in a different way. If you don't know the book, you're just you're seeing a play that happens to be based on a book. That is about someone going through this, um, on DH. And also, if you don't know anything about it, I think I hope, anyway, that it just works is a play about a true storey that, like has happened to someone and and that's kind of for a maker and for actors. And, you know, to have those real people come and see it is a little bit daunting, but thankfully, they were kind of really happy with what we're doing and just really lot like loved it. So I wanted to

Neil:   16:53
ask about the responsibility with that, because you're not only is it a difficult subject matter with I can media lots of guidelines for example, to talk about also the responsibility of taking someone else's life and turning it into this performance. So when you are making it, how did you how to do kind of work with that?

Jack:   17:10
I

Jonathan Watkins:   17:10
think that, um I think that first and foremost I think that Matt really trusted me, and he could kind of hopefully see my integrity with, like, wanting to portray his Storey in his truths. And I think that that is really what, um, I lead with. I mean, I've done a ballet of 1980 for which, you know, really had to serve the book. And I've done Dance Theatre adaptation of Cares A Castle for a Nave by Barry Heinz and that really followed the book. So this was kind of a similar process to that that really we adapt. I worked with a playwright ableto Angelito to sort of work on structure and adapting and dialogue, but we always always serve the book, and it was almost like we had the play. And then we also had this book that was almost like a manual that if we were kind of debating with the process, because the script change quite a bit, and the actors really were incredible, like no egos at all. They were serving the character and serving these real people, and we would go back to the book and all the time and go Oh, well, actually is kind of explaining it like this. So let's do that so it doesn't it doesn't really wonder from the book at all. Apart from and what we thought it was important with Andrea, his his girlfriend on DH, then wife that we kind of I just explored some of the kind of dynamics between on what between two people and within a relationship and like how that relationship survives that because we know that in other scenarios and people's experiences, you know, things break up. You know, you know, everyone's got a rock like Andrea for Matt, and Matt knows he's so lucky with that. And he he obviously describes those qualities in Andrea throughout the book. And so I think in a kind of dramatisation of that, it was important for us to kind of look at there the moments that maybe Andrea is like, you know, give Andrea a bit more of a sort of through line of like her experiences with living with someone.

Jack:   19:35
I think that's so perfect because that was one of the real key takeaways when I read the book Is that I mean one. You just ordered these things that you see Andrea doing. You're just like this woman is incredible. But actually, there was a really I felt a really eagerness. Towe want to hear more from her on, actually to almost like I would happily read her version of the entire book like because, you know, I think it's always on DH. This cost is even more topics. Even. It was actually similar conversation was having with a friend whose family member has cancer. And it's something I've experienced in my family, and we were talking about how how it effects. And actually there's a trauma to those that are helping care and cope. And actually, that's one thing that that's another thing you're not given a manual for on. Actually, I think it's ah, it's a really important part because it is so pivotal in an overall recovery for a person.

Jonathan Watkins:   20:23
Yeah, and also like, I'm sure Matt would say this himself, that it's obviously his his perspective of the experience on DH and like, you know not specifically about Andrea. But there must be, you know, there must be. We talked about it with the actors. Like what does Andrea How does Andrea and Matt's mom and dad speak to each other? Like we would never get that from Matt's book because he was not there. But, you know, at the very beginning of the book, Matt actually has had enough. And he goes, actually, Teo commit suicide and threw himself off a cliff in a bi tha and and he doesn't. But Andrea is like you were going on. We're going home to Mom and Dad's. But like I was interested in in a kind of dramatisation and an adaptation in a play of like, facilitating the actors understanding of like, Well, did Andrea then phone the moment, Dad and go, Oh, he's really bad. I'm bringing him home and then the moment Dad, rely Oh, how you know they probably will pondering. Oh, how bad is it like, What is that? And you know that that's just reality, isn't it? Like Oh, and this isn't quote and then at all that there's a kind of scenario of like and it just come across slightly in the Book of Light. Oh, we'll get him home, you know, will it? You'll get you'll have some rest will cook him his nice meals and we'll get him back on his feet. When, when he moved back to his parents like I don't know, maybe this certain scenarios and people experiencing this out there that people don't realise like themselves. What what's ahead of them and and, like the mom and dad in in Matt's case, could have thought, Oh, he's gonna be fine in a couple of weeks. Andi. No, he wasn't. But that's kind of hopeful Human spirit isn't it of like, uh, they'll pull themselves through and, like, you know, in another scenarios like you said, like, say, with cancer, which we know affect so many people and we know so much more about and we understand that word don't weigh. Obviously there's many, many different scenarios with that, but there's that kind of thing of they'll pull through it, you know, the human spirit. But I mean the the sadness is that sometimes that's not enough. Is it because we can't control that,

Jack:   22:46
and there's the There's a part in the book which I remember kind of really pausing on. When Matt is at home, he's at the window and he does just start getting emotional, starts crying, and then his father comes in and then actually, his father is looking at him and then starts getting upset. But then again, I think, you know, there's a real sense that the father is understanding the urgency of the situation, but still is off that you know, that natural response of, like, you have to get through this sun on. Then you and Matt says that he's like the defaults to response of like, I'll try, Yeah, I just really don't know. And so it is a really interesting complexity between the characters.

Jonathan Watkins:   23:23
Yeah, and he says, Pull yourself together. Come on, you can do this. And there is There is a sense of have, you know, we questioned within the play in terms of trying to understand who the mom and dad are of sort of saying right when when the dad first realised what Matt was going through, and I mean, I don't know if Google was like a big thing in 1999 I don't know. My timeline.

Jack:   23:51
This Jack

Jonathan Watkins:   23:51
Jack? Yes, it was there. Okay, but maybe the ant got good. I don't know, maybe looked up, maybe went to the library. Maybe when, you know, maybe he did that. Maybe didn't Maybe the moon, Because the moon was a teacher. Maybe someone who she teaches with has had an experience. You know, like everyone's got a bit of an experience. Haven't they have like, Oh, I know someone of So it's kind of like questioning. Yeah, Like like you're saying the people surrounding matter, unlike kind of giving them more depth. Really? Because it is very much from Matt's perspective, which is incredible. But for a play, we wanted to kind of give the other characters a little bit more of a life, really within the production. And then he came to a shower in Sheffield after we officially opened and and sat there, and I mean, it must have been quite a weird experience. Yeah, but he said he found it quite difficult. I hope it just Mom's own it. But he said that he found it really difficult for the 1st 10 minutes. And then he he thought the best thing to do is to kind of like pretend it wasn't him and just sort of watch this play and watch the Storey. And I think that kind of helped him watch it. And he came on his own on DH. His mom and dad came with some of his the rest of his family a couple of days later.

Jack:   25:17
I think when it comes to the adaptation and obviously considering the content of the book, did you have that initial discussion on deciding how kind of like Dark you wanted to go or how exposed you wanted certain things to be on? Was the discussion on that versus how you leave the play balance for the audience? Really, with a sense of hope or kind of How do How do you feel the overall sentiment delivers to the audience?

Jonathan Watkins:   25:43
Can I talk about it like with spoiling it? Yeah. I mean, I don't know when this is going out anywhere. It was really so basically, what is different in our play is the older Matt kind of is Matt sort of now on DH? He's mentoring the younger Matt like through these experiences on DH, You kind of get this sense that I wanted to kind of inject this sense of that, threw the player. You think that, like Old Amount is through it all because people think that like, Oh, this was your through it and it's gone and it's never, never gonna combat. But what we know and what we know from many different people's experiences is it doesn't go away and it can rear its head it other times, and it can be always in the background. You know, everyone has different experiences, but we kind of wanted to. So I've create this older Matt That was like like the voice in the book that Matt Rights. But then, towards the end of the play, I wanted to kind of like what I call older mats falling like so I wanted to sort of build older Matt to this kind of confident place, and people think he's OK, but then actually show that the potential that it's always there and then it can come back. And so one of the penultimate scene is really older. Matt like, spiralling down again on DH, sort of. Then it's younger mats turn to kind of go. You've taught me all of this. Like what? You do it like, you know, you've taught me these weapons, like now you have to listen to your own advice. And so younger Matt uses the part of the book where ah, Matt Haig reaches out to other people, toe share their reasons to stay alive. And so, in our play, younger Matt reaches out toe the people in like in the outer world to sort of say, Look, this book can help people. And so really that drawers old amount out have out of his is darkness and they end up in form and terror. So the play starts in a beef and ends in former terror, which is just in Ireland. I think it's south of Evita, and there's a tiny little section in the book saying, When I think of a calm place, I think of form in terror. And so it's like the end is like, you know, we've got the weapons, but it doesn't go away. But we know a little bit more of what works for us. What works for Matt and I. I think that like the kind of power and the reach of the book comes across. So I from what I've heard from people that have seen it, they say that that's the uplifting thing, that we are not alone, that people are experiencing yes, in different ways. But like this kind of sharing off Matt Storey in this way is a kind of it's a way of, like unifying the audience, unifying us, and that is really what Theodore's isn't it? If you kind of get it right, so hopefully we'll likely got it right. So, yeah, I feel like people. It's emotional. It goes to those places, like the book and it and it. And it doesn't shy away from that that people find like people are laughing and then you can hear a pin drop and then you can hear sniffles and then people are touched by it. But then it feels like lifted like we're not saying that we're not saying like the it's there's a cure, but we're saying like there's different ways and different approaches to combating and living with it, and hopefully that's what this kind of puts across. So I mean you'd after you'd have to ask audiences because because I've created it. So I'm a little bit like I just know the nuts and bolts of the play. And so I don't have, like, I don't have a response that people get from seeing it for the first time.

Jack:   29:47
So Well, I can give an answer on that tomorrow because I am heading to Bristol to our evening tea. Yes, I'm very, very excited about what we're gonna do it. We'll do a pick up after I like this. Exactly. Yeah, to me in the future. And on Sunday, Yeah, nailed it. But actually, what's great? I'm so

Jonathan Watkins:   30:07
glad glad thatyou're going because that's our first. Then you on the tour. We opened it in Sheffield, which was a studio space, and I always wanted to create it there because I kind of wanted it to be, like, more intimate and like, almost like touchable and this kind of shared environment. But it works really well in what you call like a proscenium. You know, like an old kind of proscenium theatre. And the Bristol Vic is one of the oldest you can get. I think it was built in like 17 66 on DH. It's brilliantly renovated and amazing. And so I was It was quite nice, actually, after sort of three weeks seeing the show in a certain venue to seeing it in another venue. And for the actors, that's quite different. Because Sheffield dates, they were wrapped around the action. Where is there more like out out in in front of them, Just like in a kind of like the normal, Not normal, but an original traditional theatre. Traditional theatre? That's right. Um so yeah, it works while there.

Jack:   31:08
And so it's on tour through to November, isn't it? Yeah, It

Jonathan Watkins:   31:12
finishes on November the 16th but it goes after Bristol. It goes toe the Lawrence Battle Lithia in Huddersfield. Then it goes to northern stage in Newcastle. And then I'm not quite sure of the order. But it goes to York Theatre Royal, um Leeds Playhouse, the studio there and one more Oh, Manchester Home, which is a great venue. It's got a gallery space, the theatre in a couple of cinemas. So it's a great little like hybrid of a place which

Jack:   31:42
I really like and what you know, Do you have hopes for it to go? You know, further, once the tourists finished any, like coming to London was a London night. Wait,

Jonathan Watkins:   31:51
No, I mean, the thing is like, I would love it to be seen as many places possible. Obviously it would be great if it came to London. I mean, obviously I feel like we are still very London centric, but I'm all for it just being seen as many places as possible. And I'm just really grateful that we got to create up in Sheffield. But then it's bean supported straightaway by English touring Theatre and going to, like, six venues that are all kind of interesting and different venues on DH. Mm, Yeah, we live in hope. Hopefully it will carry on. I know Matt would like it to come to London, and I think it's just about finding the right space the right time. And, yeah, just we'll say

Jack:   32:39
fingers crossed for

Jonathan Watkins:   32:40
what will be will be our fail.

Jack:   32:42
I think one thing that is interesting at that point about wanting it just to be seen on DH. It was very much my feeling when reading the book, and I think it's actually similar conversations that are happening with other documentaries. They're being made in that Actually, these things should almost become like mandatory in schooling and mandatory education, because so many things that you know Matt dealt with and then learn and the weapons that he created thes aren't things that are taught in school, which are actually very desperately needed. And so many people these days need to understand that they can create these tools and have them with them all the time. And I think that's very much. The thing for me is that with Matt's Burke and now with the pay is that you do just want as many people to gain access to it as possible when I think for myself, kind of. So I was quite late to getting round toe mats book because it was actually only in the last couple of years, as I dealt with my own issues around stressing anxiety through various like family issues that triggered mine on DH. I. I had, like cognitive behaviour therapy inside, helping myself learn those tools, and that's when I started picking up different literature to kind of learn more. And that's when I came across mats work and found him on Social on DH. You do kind of like the amount of work I've had to do separately. You're like, Well, we're fully aware that we're not the only ones suffering from this and actually that it should be more accessible exactly

Jonathan Watkins:   33:59
on DH, you know, like coming back a bit, to your question of who do I hope? Sees it and like, honestly, I know it sounds. It might sound a bit cliche, but honestly, like if it helps like one or two people like maps that success to me, like if it helps a few people that see it like that is success on DH? I think that by having more like it's just carrying on the conversations around it and, you know, some people say, like, Oh, I really want to see it But I'm kind of worried that it will be too much for me and I would just say, Come get in, I'll see. And if it's too much for you, walk out Honestly, it's absolutely fine, just but if you're willing to come because some people after would say it was so emotional and but it was hard to hear, but it really needed to hear it, you know, and and I think if you can be willing to kind of want to experience it like don't like that kind of fear of how you going to react to it, put you off and, like, literally, you can leave? It's fine and and I would just like to say that it's amazing that people like parents are partners are someone that's got any Connexion with someone that's like going through these things. It's amazing that they come and see it and go, Oh, are kind of like Get it a bit more I understand it a bit more and that's all that really matters. Like furthering understanding, shedding light. Unlike this mysterious thing that isn't so like it's, I don't know if the right word is tangible, but like, you know, I think as humans we just want things in boxes, don't we? And we want to know, like, this is what it says and this is what it is. But we know that, like not everyone is goingto have cancer the same. Not everyone is gonna break, then leg the same. You know, everyone is different and and that's just a massive thing. Tto tto learn with anxiety, depression, a combination of both who you are where you are or who's around you. It's all contributing factors, but it all makes everyone's experience is different. So I think there's many reasons toe. Read the book and see the play on DH. Hopefully, if there's a TV show and you know like the more that it just the more that we can sort of describe and and tell storeys in different ways and to sort of give people a lifeline to say that you're not alone, you know that thing that you feel in someone else's felt that and it's not just about this topic. It's about so many things. It's about representation. It's about the storeys that we tell that we put front and centre, and I feel like we're moving more in a much more positive way towards all of that. Obviously there's always work to be done, but we need to kind of tell different stars from different perspectives on DH. Hopefully the people who need to see them will say

Jack:   37:02
it well, I mean, we wish you all the best of luck with the play. I cannot wait to see it and I'll let you know. Thank you so much for coming today was super Appreciate your time. Great. Thank you.

Jonathan Watkins:   37:16
Good thing I love anything.

Neil:   37:17
That's positive. Really. Um go. Ah. Hello. Hey, Neal. How you doing? I'm fine. Jack. How are you? I'm good. Thank you. I'm excited. This is our first time recording something not physically two metres away from each other.

Jack:   37:40
I noticed Dimension to see how this goes. So how is Bristol? Bristol was great. I'm just heading back to the station to grab him back to London.

Neil:   37:50
And how was the play?

Jack:   37:52
It was really good. It was really, really enjoyed. I think it is. As Jonathan said, like a real compliment to the book, I kind of I spoke to some of the other audience members who head saying they hadn't read the book afterwards to kind of find out whether they thought that they like fellow, they had missing him for anything. But they said that actually, no, like, it really collectively made sense to them as a journey arc. But the same time, I think for me, I really enjoyed knowing the extras that I know weren't in the play. But it really does serve it in terms of its overall message.

Neil:   38:24
You don't really seem anyplace dedicated toe mental health. But we're generally seeing more talk of the issue in society, which, I guess, as we mentioned at the start of the podcast, is a positive societal change we're living through right now. Did you see Britain's Got Town? No. So it recently went silent to raise awareness for mental health issues. While this Movember when men grow moustache is in November for a charity is dedicated toe mental Well being now, what do you think? Are we seeing these changes?

Jack:   38:53
Yeah, definitely. And I think kind of with the play. What was interesting when I was watching it was part of me was because it is such a a personal storey to map, because I think if you read the book, you kind of feel like you. I suppose weirdly know him more. Andi it's such a singularity of a storey, but that actually it was done really well that it was clearly accessible way anyone else that watched it on DH. Everyone that, like, kind of left the theatre seem to be really moved by. And I think that's the thing that was that we've done the kind of the initial conversation in conversations are happening. We're starting Teo question the right things. Make sure that you know that people being treated or people are behaving in correct ways. But I think it's kind of the next step of that of like how it kind of moves off, sits in it in the books. And people have to talk about a podcast. People around social media. And I think actually this is that step that shows with Britain's got talent with Show that it's moving into the mainstream consciousness and people started to wake up to realise that the world is so different now that what it was. Theo 10 15 20 years ago on DH There are so many more things that affect mental health, and actually, we now need to properly reassess how we behave. How well educated on DH Look at the New World around us, like I think there's a bit in the play that probably even more impactful hearing said than reading it when they talk about, you know, modern advertising is achieved through anxiety, like you sell a skincare by making people anxious about the signs of ageing. Um, and I think we now need to kind of This is a movement towards kind of making that more obvious to people.

Neil:   40:38
Most are seeing more overcoming Morrell. Everyone's role in being more supportive of people around us. Jonathan said. He made a slight change to the role of Angela in his production from the books. Angela. Do you think that came across strongly?

Jack:   40:52
Yeah, definitely. So obviously, this is the bit. There is a part of the book that talks about, like how to help someone. If you know someone that is suffering with depression on and then we'll it's given in the plague is power to Andrea because it's her character that says it rather than to see you reading it from kind of being advice from Matt In the play, it's given as advice from Andrea on DH. She's surrounded by Matt's family, as it happens on, so yeah, I think that's that's the biggest thing. Is it? It does showcase there moving forward. This is a part everyone has, that there is a part that everyone has to play in it on DH. We need to be very aware of how ingrained we are to go to those defaults of, you know, Chin up. You know how I get those a cz? Well, and actually that it all has, like, kind of deeper meaning and consequence,

Neil:   41:44
which reminds me of the mental health charity. Time to change their current campaign is sometimes we say we're fine when we're not. So if your mate is acting differently, ask twice. Perhaps that's the most important thing people can take away from this episode.

Jack:   41:57
Yeah, definitely. And I think it's It's the Nina when you get there. If the responses, you know, I am fine or yeah. Oh, good. It's kind of you never taking it at face value. We should always want, Like, I think it's something I definitely aware ofthe that I want. You know, you kind of want Mohr as an answer. Then I'm fine. Like, I think a lot of the time I find doesn't tend to mean I'm fine. Onda, Actually, yeah, you should take that step, Teo probe on. Go further. And I think that's something that everyone can take away a za

Neil:   42:29
positive action. Although I get irrationally fewest, people ask me if I'm okay twice. But as much as I'd like to unpick that personal peculiarity, we've definitely run out of time on today's podcast. I'd like to think Jonathan for coming to the studio and talking about its work meal. Anyone you like to think it's a little over a year. Thank you, everyone for listening. I'd love to hear, hear from anyone that's seen the show or read the book. Come and find us on social act. Good, Good thing on, Drop us a message because we love to hear your thoughts. Wait on I