On Saturday 28th July five members of the WE WILL youth mental health campaign went to see a production called Rails at Theatre by the Lake.
The Director Clive Judd's take on the production Rails by Simon Longman is simply extraordinary. Rails takes place in a rural, isolated town where people only stop to get petrol. Mike (Toby Vaughan) is a scooter obsessed 16-year-old who fantasizes about the girl over the road Sarah (Lydea Perkins) who only wants to be friends. Mike lives with his older brother Ben (Oliver Mott) who is trapped in a job at the local petrol station and is dreaming of moving out to the city. Their Mum (Christine Entwisle) sits senseless in front of the TV. For us as young audience members there was so much that we could relate to growing up in West Cumbria.
We loved the show. We thought it was entertaining, funny, intensely powerful and the most relevant piece of theatre most of us have ever seen. It highlights how many young people hide their struggles even when heading towards crisis and the lack of adults seemingly able or willing to listen and help. You don't know what is happening behind people's curtains. One of our members said ‘it's a play about how a small act of kindness can give you hope, when hope seems hopeless.' When the character Sarah goes out of her way to help her friend, she is asked ‘why do you care so much?' She replies ‘I don't care so much, just the normal amount.'
In this take of Rails Georgia de Grey (set designer) sets the performance in a transverse staging (the stage runs down the middle of the studio and the audience sit on both sides of it) with a rustic skate ramp. The transverse staging gives everyone a different perspective of the story and you really get to see the blood, sweat and tears up close. Giles Thomas (sound technician) introduces a gentle repeating chord which becomes more intense throughout the performance reflecting the characters emotions and leaving you on the edge of your seat.
One of our members said ‘I just wanted to shout out while they were acting, I wanted to get on stage and help them out'. Another member was struggling not to get on stage and give them all a hug. We really liked the fact that they didn't use labels to define or diagnose the characters; it was ‘under-said' and because of that we understood – we saw the layers of complicated and contradictory emotions within the characters. We related to the amount of pressure the characters felt under and the lack of adults around who were willing to listen.
We would like to encourage all teachers, parents, young people and youth workers to go and see Rails. You won't regret it. One of our members said ‘we can try and talk to our teachers in a meeting or something to explain this mental health stuff and how it can affect everything in our life but they won't actually ‘get it'. But if they come and see the show then they will.'
This was what we took away from the show…
· That perhaps we need to ‘raise the bar' for the ‘normal' amount we care for each other because one small act of kindness can make the biggest difference
· That we need to listen properly to young people; we need to listen to understand them.
· If your gut feeling is that you are worried that a young person is at risk of harm never ignore it.
Rails is on in the Studio Theatre at Theatre by the Lake as part of the Summer Season until October 28th. There are a limited number of £5 seats available for people under 26 years of age for performances on Friday and Saturday nights. Contact the Theatre Box Office for more information Tel: 017687 74411 or find out more here.
Lucy Steel and the We Will group.