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Richmond playwright tackles youth mental health in a confessional show

A virtual show dedicated to youth to play during National Mental Health Week

“Putting on a brave face doesn’t mean teens aren’t struggling,” says Richmond resident Rachel Aberle.

Aberle wrote her first play for teens and parents to understand the challenges youth face when struggling with mental health.

Her play, Still/Falling, premiered in 2015 and has been performed at schools every year by Green Thumb Theatre to remind students it is okay to ask for help, particularly when dealing with mental health challenges.

The show will be staged again this year, but thanks to the pandemic the format will be different.

Instead of a live performance, the 2021-version of the one-hour show will be performed by a single actress, Lisa Baran, filmed by a single videographer and shown virtually.

Still/Falling tells the story of a female student recounting her journey and her first experiences with mental health challenges. It takes on the format of a confession video.

“The topic of mental health … emerged as a huge and pressing issue even before the pandemic but now more people are bringing it into conversations,” said Aberle, adding that she hopes the show can connect with people on a personal level.

Aberle told the Richmond News she loves writing for teens, and she wants to ensure more people understand the challenges youth face.

“I plan to always keep writing for them because I just think (youth) face incredibly complex issues, and they deserve work that speaks about those challenges,” said Aberle.

She added that many students and adults alike often try to “hide away their struggles.”

However, the more they hide the problem said Aberle, the more people will feel exacerbated.

“I hope the teens who watch (the show) will walk away knowing it’s okay and important to ask for help, and I hope parents can provide a safe space for conversations about mental health with their kids – especially during the pandemic.”

In addition to the show, a post-show discussion in partnership with Anxiety Canada will be available for audience members to ask questions.

Schools can book the show through Green Thumb Theatre’s website, while public shows can be booked through the Anvil Centre Theatre in New Westminster.

Still/Falling will be playing from May 2 to 7 during National Mental Health Week.