Fling Physical Theatre will present its new production My Black Dog this month in Bega.
The production has been developed to support youth mental health in regional and remote locations, seeking to break down stigma and help generate conversation on an issue that is often difficult to talk about.
My Black Dog has been created with the Fling Company and directed by Melbourne-based artist Kate Denborough in collaboration with Fling's co-artistic directors Gabrielle Rose and Rob McCredie.
Denborough has a strong reputation for creating dynamic original works as co-artistic director of KAGE, including works engaging with health issues with openness and sensitivity.
She began working with the performers in July 2018, exploring their ideas and experiences around mental health issues affecting our community, aiming to reflect an honest and realistic depiction of a teenager's experience.
The process revealed young people in the region know a lot about mental health, they are not afraid to talk about it, and they want to express their experiences.
One of the big issues that came up was the disconnect in how adults and young people try to talk about these issues.
Sometimes adults cannot recognize what is really going on with teenagers and other times they know something is going on but do not know how best to support them.
To express these connections between teenagers and adults, Fling alumni Julien Comer-Kleine joined the cast, along with Rose and McCredie, performing alongside the company for the first time.
Between them, they play the roles of teacher, principal, school counselor, parents and an older brother.
"It has been a remarkable experience to witness the courage and talent of the cast of My Black Dog," Denborough said.
"They are committed to exposing truths by sharing their personal experiences to open up a conversation about adolescent depression and anxiety."
Fling partnered with mental health practitioners to support the safe delivery of the project including Jen Kieoskie from NSW Health and Liz Scott from headspace Bega, as well as connecting with welfare officers from local high schools.
Rose and McCredie acknowledge that there were limitations to this type of project.
They said this show cannot tell every story, and it will not be able to "fix the problem", but the they hope the community will take up the offer to connect with this work.
"We want people to come and see this show and to start a conversation," the two said.
"We are making an offer, putting the difficult stuff out there on the table.
"We are acknowledging that we all go through dark times, and we're not alone in that.
"The more we talk about it, the better we will become at looking after ourselves, recognising when we need support, and helping each other get through it."
My Black Dog is on from August 13-17 at 6pm at the Bega Showground Pavilion, Bega.
For more information and tickets, click here.