Bethan Dear's new one-woman show, ‘How to be Well in a World That is Sick?’, comes to Aberystwyth Arts Centre tonight (Saturday, 10 June).

A trailer for the show, which explore what it is to live in a female body in a world full of violence, can be seen here.

The show challenges the way women are represented and treated within our culture. Bethan asks us to consider why we, hide the ugly side of mental health.

‘How to be Well in a World that is Sick?’ is a powerful and important 70 minute show that examines how our society’s attitudes towards trauma and mental health may be hurting us all. A story of falling into darkness, fighting demons inside and out, of getting back up again, and re-finding the light.

Following her previous acclaimed works with Jackdaw Theatre (‘Hindle Wakes’, ‘Ten Women’, ‘Harlesden High Street’), Bethan draws on her personal experiences of navigating the long term impacts of trauma. She is collaborating with New Pathways, one of the biggest agencies in Wales providing free support for young people and adults who have been affected by sexual violence or abuse.

Performing centre stage, Bethan will be taking the audience on a captivating journey using film projection, movement, clown and spoken word to share her experiences.

The piece asks many questions: How do we heal from the impacts of violence? Where do we take the aftermath? How do we navigate a world that simultaneously engenders violence and silences its victims? In an image obsessed, capitalist, consumer machine, how do we stay well?

Bethan said: “I started exploring these themes because I feel strongly about the way women and their bodies are represented in our culture. I feel passionate and angry about how we are portrayed and how this is linked to the consistent level of violence and abuse many women suffer and endure. I feel we have a long way to go in understanding the real impact this violence has in terms of PTSD, trauma and long term mental health struggles.

“While creating this work, I keep asking myself who am I making this for? Is it for anyone who has experienced domestic and sexual violence? Is it specifically for women who have experienced gender based violence? Is it for anyone who knows what it is to suffer and struggle with mental health difficulties? Is it for me in celebration and recognition of what I have overcome? Maybe it’s for all of these things and all of these people.”

“And for me it’s all these things, and I feel strongly that these voices are underrepresented in our culture. It still feels taboo to talk about mental health, domestic and sexual violence and I feel strongly that this collective voice is still massively underrepresented in our culture. I want this show to give voice to them and also remind the world that this is still happening, it hasn’t gone away. Domestic abuse and sexual violence increased during Covid and we are not talking about that.”

Deputy chief executive officer of New Pathways, Mike Wilkinson said: "Bethan's portrayal of an individual trying to come to terms with experiences of trauma and abuse is both powerful and thought-provoking. Yet it is also full of humour, strength, and is ultimately a tale of hope. We are delighted to support this project as undoubtedly it will encourage others who have suffered abuse to come forward and seek help."

Directing ‘How to be Well in a World that is Sick?’ is Nerida Bradley.

Please note there is full-body nudity and references to sexual and domestic violence, depression, flashbacks, feeling suicidal, PTSD, trauma, and other mental health struggles. There will be no detailed descriptions or direct depictions of abuse, sexual or domestic violence, in the show. Support will be offered around the performance and at venues if people need further information and support.

See the show at Aberystwyth Arts Centre tonight, Saturday, 10 June at 7.45pm, and again on Friday, 23 June, also at 7.45pm.

Bethan Dear
Bethan Dear takes centre stage for How to be Well in a World That is Sick? (Picture supplied)