Mental health takes centre stage at Edinburgh Fringe Festival

The Edinburgh Fringe Festival has long held a reputation as a comedy-driven event, where comedians, performers, musicians and more join together for several weeks of raucous entertainment each August.

But in recent years, many of the performances on offer have had a somewhat more serious tone, with many geared towards exploring, deconstructing and raising awareness of mental health.

The 2018 festival will give way to more than 3,500 shows in total, with some 300 venues across the historic city operating Fringe-related events.

According to a report in The Independent, there will be as many as 42 shows with a mental health theme – down slightly from last year’s figure of 52, but indicative that the issue is still a ‘hot topic’ at the festival.

One such example is the much-anticipated A Clown Show About Rain – a theatre piece featuring actors from popular troupe Silent Faces.

The play, which pitches itself as a humorous exploration of the human psyche, focuses on a number of characters caught in a storm which is cleverly used as a metaphor for depression.

Josie Underwood, one of the theatre company’s players, said that those involved in the production had “all suffered quite a lot” in their personal lives, and were bringing these experiences to the show in a “therapeutic” way.

Meanwhile, playwright Camilla Whitehill has teamed up with a Birmingham-based arts company to deliver her show Freeman, about the mental health of African prisoners – and these are just a handful of the interesting productions on offer at this year’s event.

In recent years, charity the Mental Health Foundation has introduced a Mental Health Fringe Award, which performers will no doubt be eyeing-up this year as part of their efforts to raise mental health awareness via the medium of entertainment.

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