INTERVIEW: Sacré Blue | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Sacré Blue, the winner of the 2015 Title Pending award for new theatre, will be making its North East debut at Northern Stage on Tuesday 10th and Wednesday 11th November. I caught up with the show’s creator Zoe Murtagh and her collaborator Victoria Copeland, who are no strangers to the area. “We went to Northumbria University and we started working together in the first year on a piece about OCD with puppetry,” explains Victoria.

Four full productions later and the theme of mental illness is still one that is close to the duo’s hearts; Sacré Blue addresses anxiety through a blend of storytelling, poetry, punk music and popcorn. “During my third year at Uni I started getting really bad anxiety and panic attacks,” recalls Zoe. “I was sat on the Tyne Bridge with the BALTIC and the Sage on one side and Newcastle on the other and thought; I’ve got an idea, I want to channel it, turn it into a positive and make a show because it’s something people still don’t talk about and mental health still has such a big stigma.”

Always a tricky subject to address, Zoe and Victoria are keen to avoid the pitfalls that many pieces of art about mental health can fall into. “It’s not fun to be preached at for an hour,” insists Zoe. “We spent a lot of time early on talking about all the facts and the emotions and went ‘right, how do we make this fun for people to watch? Something that’s accessible, engaging and different to every piece of theatre that people have seen about mental health before’.”

Although they’re usually a double-act, Victoria will be taking on a backstage role leaving Zoe to perform the show solo. “Although I have anxiety and panic attacks, actually on stage I’m comfortable,” Zoe explains, and she’s adamant that the audience should feel comfortable too. “We’re very co-dependent on the audience, so it’s really important to us that from the moment the audience walk in, they feel at ease.”

Experience of performing the developing play at a Scratch night proved its potential success, as Victoria recounts. “A lot of the feedback we got from doing that Scratch was that they felt like they were talking to a best mate.”

In a world where people are feeling increasingly anxious in their lives, Zoe finds it important to be able to have a laugh. “We’re so worried about getting stuff wrong all the time, we’re so scared of the pressure and the failure,” she ponders.

“People make mistakes, people fuck up and that’s alright, that’s quite funny sometimes.”

Despite recent improvements in the way we address mental health, just talking about anxiety may well be the key to further progression, so what part can Sacré Blue play in this development? “It’s a show for people who have suffered something similar, but it’s also for friends and family,” smiles Zoe. Victoria agrees, “It’s not pretending to have all the answers, but it is trying to provide that platform for a chat about what is never talked about.”

Sacré Blue is performed at Northern Stage, Newcastle on Tuesday 10th and Wednesday 11th November.

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