For a week during March, London Met presented six performances of MAD(E), a brilliant new play created by the Mandala Theatre Company.
Date: 21 April 2023
MAD(E), written by Sean Burn, is an epic story of life, death, and everything in between. The play focuses on the tale of three boys existing within hostile environments, carrying their worlds in an urn, a bivvy bag, and soil from the Motherland. The play explores their mental trauma and ways of dealing with wounds that make post-trauma growth possible.
Yasmin Sidhwa, Artistic Director at the Mandala Theatre Company commented, “In 2022 suicide rates for 15–19 year olds were the highest they have been in 30 years. Suicide is the main cause of death in young people, male and female, under the age of 35 in the UK. In 2018, 1866 young people under the age of 35 took their own lives. Over three quarters of them were boys or young men.”
“These statistics told me and my colleagues at Mandala that something needed to be done. We felt that there was a serious crisis – young people with special educational needs or mental health issues, or ethnically diverse backgrounds or low-income backgrounds are especially vulnerable. Yet their voices are never heard. MAD(E) gives them a voice.”
Hosting the play at London Met’s Great Hall was an opportunity for almost 300 students and staff to see live professional theatre, and also participate in discussion with the actors and theatre staff.
The discussion and Q&A between the cast, Yasmin and the audience opened the door to insightful conversations, reflections, and a supportive space to look at how these difficulties can begin at a young age. These conversations often continued in the classroom with the benefits for rich learning being clear. A student described the play as “authentic, powerful, and raw”, with another adding that it was “a brilliant play that shows the issues that young men face. It teaches to let go of guilt”.
London Met Head of Subject, Donna Jones, who helped to organise the project said “Live, socially aware performance also serves as a powerful vehicle to support reflection and discussion on issues relevant to all courses within the school. Something magical happens in the performance space for our students, and I can’t wait to bring another performance to the School next year”.
Established in 2015, Mandala produces theatre for local, national and international audiences and employs, trains and nurtures young people from diverse backgrounds into the Creative Industry.
Thank you to Donna Jones, Head of Subject and Kelly Cooper, Dean of School of Social Sciences and Professions, for bringing the play and a focus on masculinity and young men’s mental health to the University.
Thank you to the Mandala Theatre Company for the excellent performances.