Big Ideas Press, Australia, 2021
Cover design Monique-Mai Designs
Fragments was a very successful performance at The Street Theatre in Canberra in 2019 as part of ACT Mental Health Month. This book is the reworked script for that show.
It is also a study guide for theatre makers and teachers – a ‘how to’ document which users can adapt or lift as a whole into their own circumstances or educational setting.
The work is part of an ongoing community quest to normalise talking about mental health. Its focus is on the teen years, a time long known for its tumult, its constant pull between bumptiousness and self-doubt.
Fragments as a play and a book consists of eight monologues, each presenting an area of concern –sexual identity, depression and the like. The study guide suggests national curriculum areas in which it fits as a basis for discussion, a springboard for writing, an entrée into similar issues in personal development classes or a performance piece.
Thus, quite apart from making interesting reading in its own right, the book is a community resource. Its audience might just as well be professionals, parents or adolescents and each will find insights here. Even those of us quite distanced from our teen years will remember how they felt – that gyrating between elation and despair.
Maura Pierlot has sensitively and astutely drawn on a myriad of conversations with adolescents to create a script with a deep sense of immediacy and authenticity (over-used term, but true here).
Her aim is to encourage communication about painful things that are often kept hidden, and in doing so, to promote listening, tolerance and generosity towards one another. It’s a heartfelt and accessible contribution to the public discussion on mental health – on illness and wellness and our attitudes to them.
Fragments is not specifically a COVID times work, but with rising levels of anxiety and ever-increasing calls on mental health services, this is a highly pertinent work. Light and air do seem to aid in the curing of many things.
Thank you to Big Ideas Press (independent publisher), Maura Pierlot, for the review copy and the chance to talk about these things.