There’s a real buzz surrounding Crowded, coming to Pegasus tomorrow night.

Developed in direct response to the growing number of teenagers in the UK struggling with their mental health, Crowded tells the story of ordinary young people whose anxiety, depression and desire can lead to harmful and destructive behaviours.

Stephen Beeney of Half Moon, the company bringing the production to the East Oxford theatre explains: “Crowded gives a voice to emotions that are often unspoken due to social stigma.

“It is a powerful, funny and uncompromising story, presented in a striking, immersive spoken word style with the audience being part of the action.”

So many people have said how important it is for the issues to be talked about, that young people are scared to talk about their mental health, and that this has allowed discussions to take place. They have also really enjoyed the festival vibe and dancing along!!

Written and performed by three exciting poet performers: Desree, Laura Rae and Slam the Poet, with additional text by Rosemary Harris, it tells the story of ordinary young people who go separately to a local community festival.

The play follows their paths through this busy day, full of excitement and nerves, anxieties and fears. It’s a story of managing your mind in the midst of a party.

“We create a summer festival vibe, with a musical soundtrack underscoring the entire production that makes you want to dance,” Stephen tells us.

“Using spoken word gave us the opportunity to explore the rhythms of words, their percussions and harmonies. I love manipulating language to make it expressive in more ways than dictionary definitions can contain.”

The show is also immersive, which means the audience are in the middle of the action, not 10 metres away in a dark seating area. The performers walk around the audience, directing lines at them, to allow audience members to feel deeply involved in the stories.

“This proximity is very exciting and will help keep it fresh,” Stephen promises.

Written specifically for teenage audiences, it’s very much for adults as well though.

“We wanted to tell a story of mental wellbeing that could give multiple, diverse perspectives simultaneously,” Stephen continues.

“So often stories are so single-minded! A lot of Crowded was inspired by everyday anxieties that friends, lovers or bystanders have about those around them.

“It seems to me that having more sensitive, compassionate conversations around this aspect of more general mental wellbeing can help a lot of people before they develop more serious, clinically orientated mental ill health.”

So how has it gone down so far? We’ve had an amazing response with people really connecting with the piece.

“So many people have said how important it is for the issues to be talked about, that young people are scared to talk about their mental health, and that this has allowed discussions to take place. They have also really enjoyed the festival vibe and dancing along!!

“We’ve also just discovered that Crowded has been nominated for an Off West End Offies Award for Best Production for Young People Aged 13+, which is very exciting.” 

But more than anything, I hope it does something to normalise the storms that can spark in our heads on a daily basis. Minds are unpredictable, childish and wild things and we feel so much pressure to control them.

“Hopefully this will help people let themselves feel what they feel, and not add the extra stress of judging it as right or wrong.”

Crowded is at Pegasus on Friday 15 November at 4:30pm & 7:30pm 
Running Time: 60 mins including Q&A (no interval)

pegasus theatre.org.uk

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