On Monday 8 April, we welcome a brand new show from Mortal Fools and Tyne Valley Youth Theatre, I Weigh.
In response to the online ‘@i_weigh’ movement, the show is a fun and poignant journey through what it is like living in a world that places value on the superficial, distorts self-image and asks questions about the expectations that are placed on us every day.
The show explores the many questions; what can you really tell about someone from their Instagram feed?” We tell the world we’re feeling #blessed, that we’re #livingourbestlives, and only here for the #goodvibes, but what do we do when we’re feeling anxious, uncomfortable, stressed or alone? In a pressure cooker world where we are expected to only reveal the highs, what do we do when we experience the lows?
From Saturday 30th March, I Weigh is embarking on small but perfectly formed tour beginning at Arts Centre Washington in Sunderland before heading off to five other theatre venues including The Witham and Gosforth Civic Theatre. The show takes the form of a train journey with thematic stops, full of music, visual storytelling and audience engagement. Mortal Fools are also working with various groups and facilitating workshops at each venue for young people exploring the themes of the show to compliment the tour.
The I Weigh movement, started by actress and activist Jameela Jamil, inspired by the unrealistic expectations placed on people both online and in the media wanted to speak out to promote self-love and self-acceptance. Jameela was inspired to start the movement after her increasing success and profile was often reduced in the media, to articles on the fact she’d gained weight following a healthy lifestyle. The online movement on Instagram gets individuals to consider their “worth” in more than what they weigh and encourages sharing what makes you, you.
The movement has global traction on social media and beyond with Jameela recently being invited to The Ellen show to talk about it. When Mortal Fools, sat down to write the show with young people from Tyne Valley Youth Theatre, it quickly emerged that “I Weigh” was a stimulus that the team really wanted to explore and put at the core of the show. Across 3 months, the group went from creating their own I Weigh profiles, to writing and producing a show with Mortal Fools, exploring growing up as a young person/20something, societal expectations, mental health, emotional resilience, relationships and self-perfections.
Director Helen Ferguson said “I Weigh makes real people visible, beyond the media’s fake representation of people in the world, and I wanted to make a show that helped young people share their experiences and make their lives visible too – so that people in the audience would understand, think about how they support and treat others, and make a change to support themselves and other people in their life.”
“We used the I Weigh account as source material, so the show isn’t just ‘about I Weigh’ but is about the themes that the young people in the company pulled out of our research process and identified as something important they wanted to put on the stage.”
“All of the material in the show comes from the real life personal experiences of the cast, they all have a story to tell and we aim for the audience to relate to what they see. Using real life experiences, humour and poignancy is when really good theatre can have an impact.”
“For young people making theatre together enables them to explore themselves, their lives, their worries, their joys and gives them a safe but also risk-taking place to do that. Theatre is a sociable art form – we work in a room with other human beings creating something collectively, which is enjoyable and empowering. Young people from our company have said that taking part in our theatre projects has had a huge impact on their wider lives.”
“Live event theatre is powerful because everyone is in that room, on that night, experiences something together that hopefully makes them think and feel something important. And the ultimate goal is the audience leave the theatre and make a change in their life. That’s my hope for the audience going to see I Weigh”
Ben, aged 17, a member of Tyne Valley Youth Theatre and one of the I Weigh cast added about his experience in Youth Theatre and developing the show “Before I started Mortal Fools youth theatre I had no self-esteem and doubted myself a lot, however after taking part I was able to build my confidence. Being around people helped me feel comfortable in my own skin.”
“I still get stressed and lack confidence at times, however Mortal Fools is my outlet for stress relief, providing a place to take my mind off school and other anxieties; I don’t know what I’d do without it. It’s so important to have youth theatre as I want to give other young people a chance to fit in, and to release their full potential”
I Weigh is a dynamic and thought-provoking show that explores what we are worth and how we can learn to value and accept ourselves and each other in today’s world. A relevant, real, MUST SEE theatre show.
It seeks to remind audiences that people can be fearless and remarkable and resilient, they might not always think they are, but they are. Given the right support and healthy environments, we can make positive change happen - for themselves, for us, and for the next generation.
Monday 8 April | 6.30pm | Gosforth Civic Theatre
Tickets £5 and £3 students and under 18s