Youth showcase stories of shame in Lovely Mess

Acclaimed projection artist Yandell Walton joins forces with nine young people to explore themes of mental health in Riot Stage Youth Theatre’s Lovely Mess at Footscray Community Arts Centre as part of the 2018 Festival of Live Art (FOLA).

Riot Stage – a Melbourne-based independent theatre company that creates performances with young people for adult audiences – and Walton (Vivid, White Night, Melbourne Festival, Experimenta) invites us to witness a group of young people (aged 15-20) on the cusp of adulthood shedding the skin of childhood embarrassment so they can move on with their lives.

Riot Stage director Katrina Cornwell says Lovely Mess puts mental health at the forefront.

‘Riot Stage works with young people to develop our work, so the performances are always authentic and true to young people’s perspectives,’ Katrina says. ‘As an ensemble we wanted to tackle mental health in a way that is relatable and invites the audience in, rather than alienating them with what is often seen as a difficult to discuss topic.

‘The show is quite scientific – it’s a document over time of a feeling that is cumulative. We talked a lot during the process about the power of sharing one’s own story, but also about the vulnerabilities that come with that. Each performer in the ensemble has their own agency to share what they want to – and not share what they don’t want to.’

Riot stage writer Morgan Rose says the show examines a range of challenging issues in life which adult audiences may connect with.

‘The work is an exploration of the difficult moments we all have as human beings – both small and large – and how these moments accumulate over the years to shape who we are,’ Morgan says.

‘It is our hope as makers that listening to others share their stories will create a sense of empathy, but also provide a release for the audience in the realisation that we all have this in common. It’s inescapable. It’s part of being human.’

Hosted by Arts House, Theatre Works and Footscray Community Arts Centre, the Festival of Live Art captivates inner Melbourne for 13 days in March with over 50 participatory and interactive art experiences.


Lovely Mess – FOLA 2018
Performance Space, FCAC, 45 Moreland St, Footscray
Thursday 22 March, 6pm & 8pm and Friday 23 March, 6pm
Content: Recommended for ages 15+
Cost: Full $15/ concession $10
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