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Guest Blog: Playwright Katie Redford on TAPPED at Theatre503

The new comedy tackles self-help groups and mental health

Guest Blog: Playwright Katie Redford on TAPPED at Theatre503

You know that warm, fuzzy feeling you get when you go for a drink with a mate and you decide to open up about something. And they hear you - as in, really hear you. And then they decide to open up to you about something as well. It's human connection in its simplest, most authentic form. That's exactly what I hope watching Tapped will feel like.

Tapped is about three people who feel really stuck: in their relationships, hometown, jobs - essentially, their lives. They try and distract themselves by meeting at a motivational group every week, but soon realise there's only so much positive visualisation and goal lists they can do before facing up to what they're actually running from.

When I started writing Tapped back in 2018, I found myself down a self-help rabbit hole. One YouTube video led to another and then another and then another. And before I knew it, I was swamped by strangers telling me how to improve my life. Constantly reminding me that my life as it was simply wasn't enough.

The term 'self-help' covers an array of things, so just to be clear, I'm talking about the toxic positivity stuff - the need to be positive. The affirmations, the visualisation, the mood boards, the gratitude tasks, the podcasts, the articles, the apps, the books...When you start looking for it, it's everywhere.

And despite some of it being beneficial, I believe some of it to be damaging. I think we have to be really careful with how and why we're using it. Statements such as 'Good Vibes Only' simply feeds this pressure of having to feel happy and grateful all the time, which is ridiculous. Using certain 'tools' to merely paper over the cracks as opposed to facing up to what we're trying to feel better about in the first place can be detrimental. And I've definitely been guilty of it myself.

What if instead of looking for the answers via motivational quotes and 'faking it 'til we make it', we start by asking the uncomfortable question of what we're running from and we go from there? There are obviously some issues that require more than simply asking this question, and each person will handle their own stuff differently. But I think a lot of restlessness and need for escapism comes down to a lack of human connection. Because when I have a connection with someone, the niggling need to 'improve my life' diminishes.

I don't think those connections are always easy to come by though. We don't just simply have a connection with someone because they're our friend or our sibling or our parent. Those connections require work. Wounds might need to be opened, your ego might be a bit battered and vulnerability is likely to play a part. But when you establish human connection at its best, I truly believe it makes our relationships richer. That sort of stuff is what makes us feel seen and heard and valued. The stuff we live for.

Not only is Tapped about connection, but it's also hugely about love and hope. And we need as much of that as we can get our hands on at the minute. I'd go so far as to say those are the two things that get most of us out of bed in the morning, even if it's on a subconscious level. And putting on a story that encapsulates all of the above in an intimate setting such as Theatre503 will hopefully create that warm, fuzzy feeling. That drink with a mate. That connection.

Tapped is at Theatre503 until 23 April

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