Manic Street Creature, a powerful new theatre show by Lancashire-born singer-songwriter Maimuna Memon, has won the 2022 Mental Health Fringe Award at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
Established in 2017, the Mental Health Fringe Award is presented each year by the Mental Health Foundation in recognition of the most compelling new show about mental health at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. The award is supported by the Tron Theatre and The Scotsman newspaper.
Manic Street Creature explores “the euphoria and distress of two people dealing with their own and each other’s mental health” through the story of Ria, a songwriter who falls in love with a man who she later discovers has bipolar. The show will now be invited to return to Scotland in 2023, as part of the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival (SMHAF), in partnership with the Tron Theatre.
Manic Street Creature was chosen from a long list of over 30 shows, and a final shortlist of five (see below), by a panel consisting of Andrew Eaton-Lewis, Gail Aldam and Rob Dickie from the Mental Health Foundation and Andy Arnold and Seona McClintock from the Tron Theatre, in consultation with The Scotsman’s team of critics, who see hundreds of shows at each year’s festival.
Andrew Eaton-Lewis, Arts Programme Officer for the Mental Health Foundation, said:
“Over the past few years, mental health has become a consistent theme at the Edinburgh Fringe, with an increasing number of artists making brave, honest and boundary-pushing work on the subject. We set up this award to recognise and encourage this work. All of this year’s shortlisted shows are playing an important role in challenging stigma, asking difficult questions and opening up new conversations about mental health. All of them deserve your attention.
“Ultimately though there can only be one winner, and we are delighted to invite Maimuna to bring Manic Street Creature to the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival next year.
“It’s one of the most honest and empathetic shows I’ve seen about the challenges of living with someone who is going through mental ill health and the impact it can have on your own mental health. It is also just a fantastic, exhilarating piece of theatre by an extraordinarily gifted singer, musician and writer, in collaboration with two other brilliant musicians, Rachel Barnes and Yusuf Memon.”
The other shortlisted shows for the 2022 Mental Health Fringe Award were:
Feeling Afraid As If Something Terrible Is Going To Happen (Summerhall)
Marcelo Dos Santos’s rapid-fire monologue follows a promiscuous, panic-stricken London stand-up comedian (brilliantly played by Samuel Barnett) who keeps sabotaging his chances of happiness, until he falls for a quiet American with a rare nerve condition that means if he laughs he could actually die.
Sense of Centre (Dance Base)
Jack Webb’s solo dance piece sets out to explore “our increasing sense of loneliness and isolation and the basic human need for a centre of gravity”. It’s a visually arresting, yet meditative and calming performance about the search for mental wellbeing.
This year’s award is dedicated to the memory of Tim Cornwell, an arts journalist who covered the Edinburgh festival for The Scotsman for many years, and who died earlier this year. Tim had been member of the judging panel for the Mental Health Fringe Award; he spoke, and wrote, with great honesty about his own mental health.
Notes for editors
About the Mental Health Foundation
We are the UK’s charity for everyone’s mental health. With prevention at the heart of what we do, we aim to find and address the sources of mental health problems so that people and communities can thrive. We rely on public donations and grant funding to deliver our work. We lead on the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival, and for the past three years, we have also programmed an annual Gala for Mental Health at the Edinburgh Fringe.
About the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival
The Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival is one of Scotland's most diverse cultural events, covering everything from music, film and visual art to theatre, dance and literature. Launched in 2007 and led by the Mental Health Foundation, in partnership with numerous organisations across Scotland, it has grown into one of the largest festivals of its kind in the world, with over 300 events each year.
By engaging with artists, connecting with communities and forming collaborations, we celebrate the artistic achievements of people with experience of mental health issues, exploring the relationship between creativity and the mind, and promoting positive mental health and wellbeing. The festival’s innovative approach, combining high-quality artistic events with community-led programming and a social justice agenda, has been replicated internationally.
About the Tron Theatre
The Tron Theatre is one of Scotland’s leading mid-scale producing and presenting theatres, set in the heart of Glasgow's Merchant City.
Housing three performance spaces, rehearsal space, offices, a dedicated Tron Participation workshop space and Tron Bar + Kitchen, the building is a vibrant creative hub that bustles with activity year-round. The building is also home to Tron Theatre Company, which stages its own productions as well as presenting co-productions and collaborations.