Writer & Producer Lorna Dalton talks about creating new play “Lean On Me”

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My name is Lorna Dalton, I am a mother of 3 and housewife living in the Firhouse, Dublin area.   I first began writing stories for my children when they were small and then later had the opportunity to write for a local variety group, comedy sketches, panto’s that kind of thing.  It was around that time I realised my love for writing and so began writing stage plays.  I received some very positive feedback over the years from various production companies and so I continued writing and working on improving my skills.

In my own family like so many others in Ireland it has been hit hard by suicide and depression.  I decided to deviate from my usual comedy style and write a play that I felt could highlight these issues.  I truly believe that the only way situations with regard to mental health issues can improve, is through talking and raising awareness thus helping to lift the stigma that unfortunately is still ever present in our country.

I decided to take a leap of faith and put my play on independently.  I borrowed the deposit from my parents, booked a theatre, put up a notice on crooked house for auditions and sat back and (sorry to be rude) and Sh*!t myself….  Since then some amazing things have happened.  I naively thought with absolutely no experience directing I would be able to do this alone.  One day before our first rehearsal by pure chance I met a wonderful, inspirational and extremely talented director Gerry Herbert who’s partners family had recently lost a family member by suicide.  He agreed to direct my play for no fee.  All of the actors in the play are also giving up their time (2 evenings a week and weekends) in aid of the charity S.O.S. (Suicide or Survive).  These actors are all professionally trained and enormously talented.  All rehearsal spaces, my local pub Scholars and the hall of The Order Of Malta, have been offered up with no charge.  From the printing of posters and leaflets,(Corner House, Louise and Caroline S.O.S.), photographer (Miguel Walker), makeup artist (Deirdre Furlong), all the help and support from Niamh, Brid, Sandra and Mick in the Civic Theatre, to a very kind man who I have never met before (John Dooley) who rang me again out of the blue to offer his technical and stage management services all in aid of suicide prevention and mental health awareness.   I have to say I am overwhelmed with the kindness, generosity and support of people out there.  It has definitely restored my faith in humanity.

And so “Lean On Me” was born and is due to be staged in Loose End Studio’s in the Civic Theatre, Tallaght for three nights 28th, 29th and 30th of May .

The play centres around five participants and Paula the facilitator of a weekly support group for people dealing with various mental health issues.  We laugh and cry alongside Rachel, Fiachra, John and Breda as they welcome new member Sarah into their privileged circle by sharing their deepest darkest fears and secrets.  Using both her professional and personal experiences within the psychiatric services to help break down the stigma surrounding mental illness and support others, Paula is the glue that endeavours to hold the group together and help them on their journey.  The play touches on issues such as depression, bi-polar disorder, eating disorders, anxiety disorders, O.C.D. and suicide in everyday situations.  Each character is very different to the other and hail from all walks of life, as in real life and I feel shows how no class or creed  are immune to mental illness.  Some of the characters in my play are based on real people and real stories, some of which are from personal experience within my immediate family and circle of friends.  Caroline McGuigan (C.E.O) from S.O.S. have given me her full support and linked in to help me with promotion along with See Change.  All the proceeds will be going to S.O.S.

As I said I am completely overwhelmed by the love, support and selflessness of everyone involved in making this play possible and I and all the people that they will inadvertently help through this, would like to thank you from the bottom of our hearts.  Together we can all make a difference.

Lean On Me runs at Civic Theatre, Tallaght from Tuesday, 28th May – Thursday, 30th May 2013 @ 8.15pm>

Admission: €15 and €10 opening night (Tuesday, 28th May)

For more information on the show, visit their facebook page or book tickets here!

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About Civic Theatre

The Civic Theatre's Mission is to mount an artistic and challenging programme of contemporary and classical Irish and international work in Theatre, Dance, Opera and Music for the community of South Dublin county and environs. History The Civic Theatre, opened in March 1999, a project of South Dublin County Council and also grant aided by the Department of Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands. The first production at The Civic Theatre Tallaght was Howie the Rookie by Mark O'Rowe, directed by Mike Bradwell and starring Aidan Kelly and Karl Shiels. It opened on the 23rd March 1999. Since opening we have developed relationships with most Irish theatre companies and most opera, contemporary dance, ballet and children's theatre companies, developing healthy audiences for these. We are particularly proud of our co-productions – to date we've produced; or co-produced 22 plays, involving new Irish writing. We have hosted wonderful international productions, fantastic local work, and we have had some terrific nights of music on stage at the Civic.
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