STILL/FALLING | Notes from the playwright

Ahead of our #CanadaPerforms Live Reading on May 7, we're sharing some thoughts from STILL/FALLING playwright, Rachel Aberle:

Being a teenager is hard. Your body is changing, your hormones are all over the map – and this affects your mood. It can make what could seem like a small crisis to someone else seem like the end of the world to you. It can make you angry. It can make you sad. It can make you anxious.

These are all statements that are true to a degree, and all statements I heard a number of times when I was a teenager. I heard some version of these statements from my parents, from my teachers. My friends and I repeated these phrases to each other as well in times of stress. I repeated these phrases to myself, increasingly, as my mood went from bad to worse over my grade 12 year. I blamed my age bracket for my increasing anxiety and sadness, trying to chalk up the emotional turmoil I was dealing with to being a typical teenage phase.

By the time I received help, I was at a point of crisis. It took me a long time to ask for help with my mental health, and even longer for people to really hear me when I asked. Conversations around mental health were nowhere near as common as they are today. People – including myself – were much quicker to jump to the narrative of a typical teenage fluctuation in hormones than to dig deeper and question whether what was happening to me might require
more attention and more targeted help.

My intent in creating this piece was to normalize conversations around mental health, and to offer avenues for youth and young adults to connect with one another on these topics, and encourage conversation with the adults in their lives as well. I hope that teenagers who see STILL/FALLING will take away that drowning in emotional distress is NOT what a normal teenage experience has to look like, and that they will learn to ask for help early and often if they are feeling overwhelmed. I hope too that both the students and educators who see STILL/FALLING will begin to look out for the kinds of signposts that can be indicators of mental illness. As we begin to acknowledge how common mental illness is, I hope that as a community we can begin to look out for each other, and create positive space for people who are struggling.

And to anyone out there who sees this play who is suffering; who has reached, or is close to reaching a point of crisis, I hope this play can let them know that they are not alone. Ask for the help you need – it is out there, and it does make a difference. And as you embark on a path towards recovery, be patient with yourself. Be patient, and be kind.

- Rachel Aberle, STILL/FALLING playwright

Join us Thursday, May 7, 2020 at 1pm PST/4pm EST for a live reading featuring Lisa Baran and Rachel Aberle.

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STILL/FALLING is recommended for ages 13+. Please see our event page for more details.

Click here for the STILL/FALLING study guide.

About the playwright:

A graduate of Studio 58, Rachel is a playwright, director, performer and the Associate Artistic Director of Green Thumb Theatre. As a performer she has appeared with companies including The Arts Club, The Vancouver Playhouse, Chemainus Theatre Festival, Caravan Farm Theatre, Prairie Theatre Exchange, Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, and she toured The Firehall Arts Centre’s hit show CHELSEA HOTEL: THE SONGS OF LEONARD COHEN across Canada for over four years. Her debut script STILL/FALLING (Green Thumb Theatre) has played to audiences across North America, and received the Jessie Richardson Theatre Award for Significant Artistic Achievement. Her second play THE CODE (Green Thumb Theatre) was recognized with a Jessie Award for Outstanding Production, the Sydney J. Risk Prize for Outstanding Original Script by an Emerging Writer, and was included on Tapeworthy’s Best of Stage 2018 – selected out of almost 200 shows worldwide. Directing credits include Green Thumb’s 2017 revival of NOT SO DUMB, and most recent tour of CELESTIAL BEING, and I KNOW WHAT I SAW at Studio 58’s professional theatre training program. Rachel was selected for the 2017 Playwrights Lab at the Banff Centre and was one of only 15 international artists selected for the ASSITEJ Next Generation Program at the 2018 ASSITEJ Artistic Gathering in Beijing.

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May 4, 2020

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