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Spectacle’s latest production puts mental health under the lens

jennifer vyle 1.jpg

Some of the cast of 'It's The Jennifer Vyle Show' in rehearsal: from left, Amy
Griggs, Shane Nickels and Director Carys Parry.

A Rhondda community theatre company that specialises in working with disadvantaged communities and young people is touring with a production challenging the stigma attached to mental health.
Spectacle Theatre, which is based at Coleg y Cymoedd in Llwynypia, is taking its humorous but serious It’s The Jennifer Vyle Show to venues across South Wales in March and April.
Aiming to give young people the confidence to talk openly about mental health, the production is part of the company’s policy of delivering shows, workshops and training linking into the Welsh Government’s agenda for health and themes of young people's mental health, risky behaviour, hidden harm and obesity.
After each performance, there will be an opportunity for the audience to engage with the actors and ask questions about any of the issues and themes raised.
Recently awarded a grant of almost £80,000 over three years from the EU-supported South East Wales Community Economic Development programme (SEWCED), the funding is allowing the not-for-profit business to host workshops in costume design and radio, as well as working with special schools.
Delivered by a six-partner local authorities’ consortium of Merthyr Tydfil, Bridgend, Blaenau Gwent, Caerphilly, Rhondda Cynon Taf and Torfaen, the £13.5 million SEWCED programme is supported by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government.
Spectacle Theatre was formed in 1979 with the aim of putting on high quality touring plays for venues in Wales to encourage people who are traditionally not theatregoers to access the arts.

“We target deprived areas and work closely with venues and our contacts in the community to attract an audience of people new to theatre,” said Business Development Manager Steve Davis. “We aim to ensure affordable ticket pricing, and ways to support that, such as through Time Banking.
“It’s said that one in four people will be affected with mental health issues during their lifetime, with mixed anxiety and depression being the most common form,” he added.
“Nine out of 10 people with mental health issues experience stigma and discrimination, and almost three in four young people fear the reactions of friends when they talk about their mental health problems.
“This production is an enjoyable but serious way of examining and challenging the stigma associated with those problems.”
It’s The Jennifer Vyle Show was written by award-winning playwright Paul Swift and is being directed by Spectacle’s Creative Facilitator and local athlete Carys Parry.
The first performance the play will be at Coleg y Cymoedd on Monday, March 10, followed by Cwmparc Community Association on March 11, Neath Port Talbot College on March 12 and Maerdy Communities First on March 21.
It will take in six other venues across Rhondda Cynon Taf before touring to students, young people and community centres throughout South Wales.
Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Community Safety Cllr Paul Cannon said: “During these tough economic times, the Council is doing all it can to help businesses and town centres in the county borough to secure investment and support.
“Spectacle Theatre is a perfect example of a social enterprise that supports the local community by helping them develop skills and improve their wellbeing and confidence.
“That is why it is an ideal candidate for investment by SEWCED, whose aim is to build sustainable and vibrant communities.”
A promotional trailer for Jennifer Vyle can be viewed at www.spectacletheatre.co.uk/jennifer-vyle/
Further details of the production are available from Jade Emanuel on 01443 430 700; email jade.spectacletheatre@gmail.com

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