Writer and performer Katie Guicciardi’s new show, Fox, takes a look at asking for help in a society that’s become increasingly isolated and isolating. We spoke to her about stigma, finding humour in darkness and the importance of talking.
Fox is inspired by the real-life event of a man appearing to live on the wall outside my flat soon after the birth of my first child. I was also inspired by close friends’ experiences of postnatal depression and keen to raise awareness of it by telling this story of a new mother who watches the man everyday. The mother in the play is experiencing postnatal mental issues which become increasingly more serious and apparent throughout the piece.
I think mental health has previously had a certain stigma attached to it and, unlike physical problems, people have been afraid to come forward/speak up/ask for help for fear of being judged or labelled or deemed unfit for work/parenthood etc. The simple fact that it is being discussed more openly now has had a positive impact for sufferers. If we can normalise mental health and regard it in the same way that we regard physical health and wellbeing, the conversation is open and people feel less alone and more willing to seek and offer help.
On light and darkness
Fox has humour within it, but not necessarily dark humour. I think that in the same way life has extreme ups and downs and moments of light and joy even in the most tragic and devastating circumstances, art reflects this and it’s also important for an audience. The play is observational and life can be both funny and dark at the same time.
I think that theatre is a great way to talk about anything because it holds a mirror up and makes audiences reflect on themselves, their lives and their behaviour. I think making art about mental health brings it into the light and can only encourage wider conversation by doing so. I was lucky enough not to experience postnatal mental health issues but our producer did and she felt, as I did, that it’s an important issue that needs further awareness and discussion both in the arts and in life. So many women have suffered in silence.
On asking for help
Fox has an important message. We are not alone. Help is out there and it’s OK to ask for it. It questions when we should put our own needs ahead of others and is honest, funny and deeply moving.
I would like anyone struggling to feel less alone and more able to ask for help. I would like audiences to be moved by the mother’s story and more aware of what mothers go through after giving birth.
Fox, until Mon 26 Aug (not 13), Pleasance Courtyard, 11.30am, £9-£11 (£8-£10)