Plays fo­cus spot­light on men­tal health


Two shows in this year’s Koko­mai festival are cen­tred around con­fronting men­tal health is­sues.

Va­lerie by Robin Kelly and Shot Bro by Rob Mokaraka look at those is­sues in a frank and dis­arm­ing man­ner, man­ag­ing to be en­ter­tain­ing but also to ex­pose vul­ner­a­bil­ity, mak­ing them pow­er­ful view­ing.

Kelly said Va­lerie, which has been booked for next year’s Ed­in­burgh Fringe, is a show about his grand­mother and how her hope, res­o­lu­tion and op­ti­mism in deal­ing with his grand­fa­ther’s men­tal health is­sues helped him deal with his own chronic de­pres­sion.

Kelly’s back­ground in deal­ing with his de­pres­sion, work­ing in ge­netic re­search and as a mu­si­cian made ev­ery­thing come to­gether into the show.

‘‘There is a lot of magic in the show. It tells the story of some amaz­ing times in my grand­mother’s life, like hang­ing out with Frank Si­na­tra in Mel­bourne, so it has a real glam­our to it, but has the hard times as well, so has a real vul­ner­a­bil­ity also.

‘‘It is a show that will make peo­ple feel some­thing, which can be con­fronting and be­cause of that we go out af­ter­ward and talk with peo­ple about it.’’

Shot Bro tells the story of the au­thor’s at­tempt to kill him­self by pre­tend­ing he had a gun so po­lice would shoot him. He was shot in the chest by a po­lice of­fi­cer but sur­vived.

Mokaraka said he didn’t know he had de­pres­sion and as a male he was told to har­den up and that he would be all right with­out ac­tu­ally ex­am­in­ing the un­der­ly­ing is­sues.

‘‘It’s funny, dark and real. It’s a tool for heal­ing and as I re­veal my story ev­ery­one can find a way of re­lat­ing to it. I’m tak­ing it around the coun­try to give peo­ple a chance to speak about some­thing we don’t re­ally talk about.

‘‘Peo­ple in NZ have been afraid to ad­dress their feel­ings in the past be­cause it means be­ing vul­ner­a­ble. I don’t want what hap­pened to me to hap­pen to any­one else..

‘‘I’m still deal­ing with de­pres­sion and find­ing new ways to deal with it. Af­ter the show we have a cup of tea where peo­ple can talk about how the show made them feel, which is a big part of it.’’

Catch Va­lerie at Carter­ton Events Cen­tre on Fri­day October 13 at 6.30pm. Shot Bro is at Rangi­marie Marae on Tues­day October 17 at 7pm.

Robin Kelly wants to fo­cus on hope, res­o­lu­tion and op­ti­mism.

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