Melva tours to schools in 2019 and 2020

Published: 11 October 2019
Reporter: Peter Lathan

Melva, a play about children’s anxieties and worries which was first performed by Mortal Fools, a theatre, drama and creative learning company based in Prudhoe, Northumberland, at Christmas 2017 in a pop-up theatre it created on Prudhoe’s Front Street, tours to NE schools in 2019 and 2020 for children aged 7 - 11.

The play tells the story of Melva Mapletree and her churning, squirming, uncontrollable worrits (her anxiety) as she learns to take control, face her fears and become the mountaineer she’s always wanted to be.

“Children’s mental health is a growing crisis in the UK – currently 1 in 8 are considered to have a diagnosable mental health condition – and this is something we see evidence of every day in our work with our young people,” said Kiz Crosbie, Mortal Fools' Artistic Director. “Worries and anxiety are something that affect all of us –and can have a particularly detrimental effect on children and young people. It can be really difficult to find ways to talk about our mental health, let alone ways to improve it.

“In 2017 around 600 people saw MELVA; in 2019-20, we will take the play to closer to 3000 people, many of them children who have very limited opportunities to access high-quality theatre.”

In addition to showing Melva in each school, children will take part in creative engagement workshops, co-delivered by artists and mental health professionals, linked to the play's characters and mental health themes. Teachers will take part in training CPD workshops and also receive creative classroom resources so that the learning and exploring mental health can continue after the show.

“The responses from our MELVA audiences in 2017 demonstrated that this play had real potential to help – giving children (and the adults in their lives) new, fun ways to talk about their mental health,” Crosbie added. “The challenges the characters go through in the play are great models for children, making it clear that we all have challenges and suggesting ways we can make things better.”

The tour has been made possible by £50,000 of funding from Arts Council and the support of Children North East (co--producer) and Northumberland County Council.

There are still opportunities for schools and venues to get involved with Melva and express their interest for this tour and future years. Mortal Fools are also interested in talking to businesses interested in sponsoring/ financially supporting Melva both this year and subsequent years to secure its legacy. Email info@mortalfools.org.uk for more information and to connect.