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Mandala Theatre Announces MAD(E), a Play Exploring Masculinity and Young Men's Mental Health

The production shines a spotlight on the consequences of non-existent early mental health support

Mandala Theatre Announces MAD(E), a Play Exploring Masculinity and Young Men's Mental Health

The huge problem of masculinity and boys and young men's mental health is starkly exposed in a new play developed and produced by Oxford-based Mandala Theatre Company. It will open its national tour at the North Wall Arts Centre, Oxford on January 25th, 2023.

The production, 'MAD(E)', is a passionate, exhilarating and uniquely theatrical commentary on masculinity and young men's mental health, co-created with boys and young men nationally.

It was written by Sean Burn for Mandala Theatre, after careful research involving almost 100 boys and young men in Oxford and around the UK. It tells an epic story of life, death, and everything in between. 3 lads - existing under the hostile environment, carry their worlds in an urn, a bivvy bag and soil from the Motherland, dodging a system that engulfs and traumatises them. Shot through with a comic chorus of 'pisstroughers', physical theatre, and poetry - it is a moving indictment of the need for society to act now, doing nothing is not ok.

Sean Burn, Writer of MAD(E) says, "The idea of the play is the word made not mad, it's life, it's stuff, events, it's wounds, it's trauma, poverty might be violence. Rather than putting up barriers, its finding connection. I think if lads cried more everyone would be healthier."

Some of those who contributed were boys aged 13/14 in schools, students in sixth form colleges and universities and others in youth groups around the country.

Yasmin Sidhwa, Mandala Theatre's Director says the production focuses on the consequences of the way society sees masculinity and the lack of support for boys and young men experiencing trauma in their lives.

"It is a serious crisis" Yasmin explains." Young people with special educational needs or mental health issues, or ethnically diverse backgrounds or low-income backgrounds are especially vulnerable. Yet their voices are never heard. This play gives them a voice. We hope 'MAD(E)' will move people and inspire them to ask why it is that in 2022 Suicide rates for 15-19-year-olds are the highest they have been in 30 years. They are statistics which tell us that something must be done."

According to Professor Joanne Begiato - historian, exploring masculinity, at Oxford Brookes University, by shining a light on a vitally important issue worsened during the pandemic, 'MAD(E)' is a story of our time: "There is a cultural script always that is defining the way men are allowed to be and to think about themselves. That need for care and love isn't always recognised. The tricky thing for men is that they are told that in order to be a man, to assert their patriarchal rights, to be dominant, there is always an undercurrent of physical force."

"The resolution of the play seems to me about bringing people together and about being able to openly express the need for love, it's not just a hope or aspiration, it's a right."

Mandala Theatre's director, Yasmin Sidhwa hopes the tour will help foster a better understanding of the issues and the need for action to be taken to address it before irreversible damage is done to young people. "This is a story which young people can identify with. They will see their stories on stage and that is a powerful thing. When you are from an ethnically diverse background or low-income family you are far less likely to access the support, you need. You get used to being ignored, but here is a play which makes these young people the centre of the attention."

MAD(E) begins a national tour in Oxford from 25 January 2023 at the North Wall Arts Centre, Oxford.

Photo Credit: Stu Allsopp


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From This Author - Aliya Al-Hassan

Aliya Al-Hassan is UK Managing Editor of BroadwayWorld. A London-based theatre critic and journalist, she has a life-long passion for the arts, with a focus on theatre and opera. She is a... (read more about this author)


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