Barton Peveril students joined up with Nursing students from the University of Southampton for their new Interactive Theatre production, Finding Balance, which aims to explore and reduce exam stress. The production invites audience members to choose the main character’s actions, at several points in the play, using the Vevox app. The Nursing students then performed the production to a large audience of Barton Peveril students, in the College’s Rose Theatre.
The production was performed by Nursing students from the University and devised by University Mental Health Lecturer James Wilson, who created the idea to teach his nursing students. Lecturer James Wilson has since won teaching awards and a fellowship for his creation.
Speaking on the production, James Wilson said:
“We recognised that mental health has become a topic of increasing focus in the last number of years for all students that are at college particularly. One of the things we’ve also found is that mental health is very complex and it’s hard to make the unseen seen. We’re not telling anyone what to do in the play and there’s no right answers but it does spark conversations and help with signposting.”
Katie Watson, a student nurse at the University and who acted the part of the teacher said:
“I think it’s a brilliant experience for people to be able to put themselves in the situation and go “what would I do” rather than us giving a presentation where we can talk at them for as long as we want. Here the students have to think.”
For the sixth formers watching this gave an insight into what can cause anxiety around exam time, how it can escalate, how they can get support and how they can identify signs that their friends may also be struggling. For the nursing students it was an important part of their training in teenage mental health.
Nicola Carcone, Assistant Principal (Student Progress and Wellbeing) at Barton Peveril College said:
“We really wanted to get involved because it keeps the conversation about mental health issues on the table and it was a way to get students really engaged in it. You always feel when you come out of theatre you might come out with different emotional reactions but actually having to make decisions about the people on stage, I thought was fantastic.”
Barton Peveril student Jessica Jeffrey also commented on the production:
“I think what’s special about this is that what we think might not have been the same as what the adults would think, so giving us the decision actually gets us engaged.”
You can listen to a full interview with James Wilson, Nicola Carcone and students on BBC Radio Solent here (begins at 36:16).