The Garden of the Mind
Recipient of Lithgow's Australia Day Award 2019 for Best Theatrical Event
‘The Garden of the Mind’ played in front of a sold out audience at Lithgow’s State Mine Museum on 12 October 2019 and was the culmination of 10 months dedication by locals brought together by ‘Trybal Productions’ to work alongside renowned professionals of the Australian theatre community.
The theme of this immersive experience centered on the idea that mental health is ‘Everyone navigating what it means to be human’ and that mental distress sits alongside joy, sadness, hope, and anger etc. etc. as a normal part of everybody’s lives and the more we can all acknowledge this the more we can get rid of the stigma and shame that stops people reaching out for support when they need it most.
After a welcome to country by Aunty Helen the audience was invited to explore the machinery and equipment that is part of the history of the State Mine Bath House and discover hidden projections, Art Works and recordings inspired by the words of many generous people from the Lithgow area who have shared their stories of overcoming and /or living with times when their minds haven’t responded to life in the way we so often take for granted. With enormous generosity of spirit and openness they have told us of the challenges of living with schizophrenia, postnatal depression, PTSD, depression, anxiety...and the list goes on
Then the live show commenced on four stages, with poetry, monologues, art work, theatrical scenes, interviews, original songs, movement and dance. Four projections filled the walls with faces and created changing backdrops for the different scenes.
It is hard to sum up such an incredible night so I will leave it to the words of people who were there: audience member Cathy Crowe, who is also the Director of Mental Health for the Nepean Blue Mountains Local health district:
“Everything about the night was quite magical the subject matter was handled beautifully and sensitively; both the performances and the installations were interesting and challenging. The imagery being projected was very very powerful”
Below are more quotes from participants and audience members.
‘I have had an absolute blast being part of this production. It has been deeply and intensely satisfying, spiritually and emotionally, to work with such dedicated, talented, sharing, caring people. The performance was electrifying and sumptuous to partake in and to watch. This experience will resonate for a long time with all who saw it. Thanks again for a memorable journey through time and space.’ Paul
‘A great night, no a brilliant night of acknowledgement and, validation and personal performances.’ Yuri
‘I would like to say how much I appreciated being part of the process and the final fantastic results of GOTM
An amazing commitment and energy by all concerned, a very challenging and worthwhile project. It was amazing to work with so many talented people’ Ariel
‘Fabulous production, you really got the best out of the performers and the staging was absolutely fantastic’ Robert
‘Was absolutely awesome'
Trybal Productions (auspiced by Arts Out West), created a theatrical show focused on understanding the lived experiences of Lithgow residents who at various times in their lives have suffered from mental health distress. There were plenty of opportunities to develop as performers and creators under the guidance of Director Katrina Douglas, Music Director Peter Kennard and theatre and video designer Sean Bacon,
Local mental Health care providers are working closely with this project ensuring that the stories being told are accurate and relevant to the experience of Lithgow and that the environment will be a safe place to explore these at times challenging subjects. The show was a testament to the resourcefulness, resilience and compassion of the Lithgow community.
Everyone is touched by mental health challenges at some point in their life, and Trybal Productions are working with the people of Lithgow to embrace and develop its own strengths and consequently increase the sense of connectedness individuals and families feel as they open up and talk about what they are experiencing, and also that the community feel confident in helping as they can and also know where to direct people to get practical and/or psychological guidance and support.
This show demonstrates that through creativity and respect we can go a long way to making our community a safer and an even more nurturing place to call home.
We had the muster for our Mental health Cabaret...and it was so much fun. Everyone threw themselves energetically into all the activities that Katrina presented, literally threw themselves at times. All in all it was a great start to the project
Above are some pre production images, behind the scenes with the team in Lithgow securing the historic State mine museum for the final production and the beautiful Hoskins Church for all the rehearsals.
Below are a selection of photographs from the rehearsal process which took place at Hoskins Church Lithgow
The production celebrated many forms of creative expression including Theatre, Poetry, Dance and Movement, Songwriting, Photography and Digital Art and Installations. The following Poem was created after workshopping with Katrina the questions we would like to ask mental health professionals and Lee Vincent created and performed this stunning piece amidst the machinery of the State Mine Museum.
By Lee Vincent
for the “Garden of the Mind” Production
This is a Questionable journey.
Are you ever frightened?
Do I need to be restrained?
How can you work with the police?
Is this the most dangerous part?
How will you cope with this later?
Do I seem scary, do I look violent?
What if I entered on my own?
Can you tell by the cover what’s wrong with me?
Do I fit your pigeon holed chart?
Do I need to threaten you, or myself?
Tell nurse, tell doctor, tell ME
What’s it like on this journey with me to fail?
How do you deal with my addiction?
What do you think of my refusal?
How do you deal with my affliction, does it effect you too?
Dear Doctor, my Doctor
Do my meds make you money?
Has your mind seen my visions?
Have you suffered in mind and body like me?
What remedy have you for the mind, to quiet the rage and despair?
How do you cope when my affliction takes hold and my control is lost?
Social worker in passing
How do you process my suffering?
Have you dealt with worse stories than mine?
What do I do if you can’t help me?
What wish would you have to heal the minds of your community?
How much can you help with resources so thin?
Welcome to my world, nurse
Have you heard the one about the nurse dependant on the patient?
How do you feel about cleaning up my shit?
Is your sense of “Normal” changed by your occupation?
Do you take your own advice?
Have your coping tools changed since doing the job?
What happens to me when you’re gone?