Laugh­ing at men­tal ill­ness

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By EMMA WHIT­TAKER

ROBERTO Nasci­mento’s brief is clear – shift pub­lic mind­sets and above all en­ter­tain.

The Grey Lynn res­i­dent is the di­rec­tor of Neg­a­tive Ori­en­tated Ther­apy (N.O.T), a 10-minute play which is go­ing be­fore au­di­ences at the Big re­ThiNK from Oc­to­ber 3 to 6.

Al­most 100 New Zealand co­me­di­ans, ac­tors and di­rec­tors have come to­gether for the Big re­THiNK.

It is a the­atre show in­cor­po­rat­ing short plays, art­work and mu­sic that aims to break down some com­mon mis­con­cep­tions about men­tal ill­ness.

It will mark the be­gin­ning of the World Men­tal Health Aware­ness Week.

Men­tal un­well­ness is some­thing that has been part of Mr Nasci­mento’s fam­ily life.

He is one of the 20 artists in­volved in the project who have sup­ported a fam­ily mem­ber or friend through a men­tal ill­ness, while the other 80 are suf­fer­ers them­selves.

‘‘It’s some­thing I find in­ter­est­ing and is dear to me,’’ Mr Nasci­mento says.

‘‘When you know some­one go­ing through this you go through a process of get­ting an­gry and up­set and af­ter a while you re­alise they’re peo­ple and you’ve just got to work with what you’ve got.’’

Like many of the plays that make up the Big re­THiNK, N.O.T is a a com­edy.

While men­tal ill­ness is no laugh­ing mat­ter, com­edy could be the key to chang­ing peo­ple’s ideas about the sen- sitive is­sue, Mr Nasci­mento says.

‘‘A lot of peo­ple who have an un­der­stand­ing of these things write come­dies. It’s a gen­tle way of in­tro­duc­ing peo­ple to some­thing that can be treated in a very heavy handed way.

‘‘A lot of peo­ple do walk in and think ‘gee, you can have a sense of hu­mour’. If you can laugh at your­self though it can make you stronger,’’ he says.

N.O.T has only two ac­tors – Aidee Walker, who has pre­vi­ously been in Noth­ing Triv­ial and Out­ra­geous For­tune, and An­drew Munro.

It was writ­ten by an Amer­i­can psy­chother­a­pist and tells the story of a man who goes to visit his doc­tor be­cause he’s too happy.

‘‘The doc­tor gives him all kinds of ad­vice like ‘start judg­ing peo­ple’ and ‘stop eat­ing well’,’’ Mr Nasci­mento says.

‘‘I think it’s cool that the play does that be­cause they are things we all do. It’s a re­ally cute piece,’’ he says.

‘‘Some peo­ple may not like it, but hope­fully they will ex­pe­ri­ence some­thing that maybe will stir some­thing in them and when they leave they might do some re­search,’’ he says.

Photo: JA­SON OXENHAM

Chang­ing minds:

Neg­a­tively Ori­en­tated Ther­apy.

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