Redbridge Drama Centre delivers powerful message on mental health in young

Katie Arnstein and Jess Capes in the Redbridge Drama Centre production of Help Me I'm Normal. Pictur

Katie Arnstein and Jess Capes in the Redbridge Drama Centre production of Help Me I'm Normal. Picture: Redbridge Drama Centre - Credit: Archant

An invited audience gave an enthusiastic reception last night to a hard-hitting play dealing with mental health issues affecting young people which is touring Redbridge schools.

Help Me I’m Normal follows the stories of teenagers Amy and Troy and highlights how their lives spiral out of control and the affect it has on them and their families and friends.

The play was performed to members of Redbridge Youth Council and other invited guests at Redbridge Drama Centre, Churchfields, Woodford Green.

The youth council had commissioned the work from Redbridge Drama Centre after being awarded a £100,000 grant through the Young Cabinet Priority Fund.

Youth council member Ailish Farrell told the audience students were involved in the early development of the play, which was devised by the centre’s “freelance” artistic director Michael Woodward.

“We knew mental health was a sensitive topic, with quite a lot of stigma,” said Ailish, 16, a student at Woodbridge High School, St Barnabas Road, Woodford Green. “Pieces of theatre do make an impact on you when you are young.”

One of the main messages from the play – which will be performed to 5,000 students from Year 8 upwards – was for young people to have the courage to talk about their emotions.

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The actors, Andrew Hollingsworth, Katie Arnstein and Jessica Capes, played various roles, including teenagers, parents and social care professionals.

Afterwards Cllr Elaine Norman, Redbridge Council cabinet member for children and young people, said she was struck by how powerful the play was.

“What the youth council wanted to do was to raise awareness of mental health and you’ve done that in spades,” she said.

“I hope young people will feel empowered to get the help they need and deserve.”

Cllr Norman added parents would benefit from seeing the play.