Menu

Glory by Nick Ahad

It Takes Balls To Talk - Belgrade teams up with mental health charity

Posted on 13 March 2019

The crisis in men’s mental health has become an increasingly hot topic in recent years, attracting considerable media attention and sparking action from a wide range of charities.

Amidst high profile campaigns, media headlines and worrying statistics, it’s little wonder that the subject is beginning to surface in the stories being told on stage and screen, and it’s a theme that is touched on in a number of shows in the Belgrade Theatre’s Spring 2019 season, including Ishy Din’s Approaching Empty, Nick Ahad’s Glory and Tom Wainwright’s and Urbain Wolf’s Custody.

The national figures are certainly stark. In the UK, suicide is the leading cause of death in men under the age of 45, and 76% of those who die through suicide are men. Yet while around one in eight men in the UK is suffering from a common mental health disorder, only 36% of psychological therapy referrals are for male patients, reflecting a cultural tendency for men to suffer in silence. Partly as a consequence of this, around three quarters of deaths from suicide are of people who have had no previous contact with mental health services.

In recognition of this, the Belgrade has teamed up with It Takes Balls to Talk, an initiative developed by Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership NHS Trust in partnership with Coventry and Warwickshire Mind, Unite the Union, Samaritans and Time to Change.

Launched in 2016, the campaign has so far worked primarily with sporting venues and organisations including Wasps Rugby, Coventry Blaze and CCFC’s Sky Blues in the Community. This season, however, the charity will gain its first performing arts partner, fostering new connections that chime with the aims of Coventry’s Year of Health and Wellbeing and its year as European City of Sport in 2019.

Volunteers from the charity will be on hand in the foyer, providing information and support for audiences attending Approaching Empty and Glory. The Belgrade will also be helping to support the charity and the people it engages with to access performances of these two productions.

Running from 20-23 March, Approaching Empty tells the story of two lifelong friends trying to save their failing minicab business in today’s cut-throat capitalist world of big ambitions. Set in the aftermath of Margaret Thatcher’s death, it confronts challenges faced by working class men in a post-insdustrial age, and how an older generation of workers are attempting to reconstruct their identities following the decline of manufacturing and traditional industries.

Produced by Tamasha, Kiln Theatre and Live Theatre, the play is written by Ishy Din, whose acclaimed World War I play Wipers ran at the Belgrade in 2017. For his latest piece, he draws on his own experience of working as a cab driver in North East England.

Then from 10-13 April, Glory examines the resurgence of grassroots wrestling, telling the stories of three young men who are driven to enter the ring in search of a release from outside pressures, and the former wrestling giant who sees them as his ticket to resurrect his own former glory. Through their experiences of racism, seeking refuge and PTSD, the production grapples with issues of identity and how race and masculinity are constructed in the modern world.

Produced by Red Ladder Theatre and The Dukes Lancaster, Glory is the second production to be staged at the Belgrade as part of Tamasha’s IGNITE programme, following hot on the heels of the critically acclaimed Under the Umbrella.

Alex Cotton, Mental Health Nurse and Founder of It Takes Balls to Talk said: “It can be difficult to talk about mental health and we hope that the campaign will help men understand it is important not to keep their feelings to themselves.”

“It Takes Balls to Talk is about reaching out to men and the people who care about them, to promote positive mental health. We want people to have positive conversations about mental health, inspired by this campaign.”

Approaching Empty shows at the Belgrade Theatre 20-23 March, followed by Glory which runs from 10-13 April.