I found out about One In Four last year when a friend said she was doing the stage management for a charity burlesque event and suggested that I come along. I checked the Facebook event page for details and was quite surprised to find that the charity was Mind (as I’d naively assumed it would be a breast cancer charity), and even more stunned by the quoted fact that one in four adults experience mental health problems in any one year!
On the afternoon in question, our donations were taken at the door and we had a number written on the back of our hands to say we’d paid. On discussing this with friends, we realised the numbers only went up to four to make us think about the ‘one in four’ statistic. This, combined with the Mind beer mats and postcards on every table, had us thinking about mental health issues even before the delightful Des O’Connor (no, not that one!) came on stage to educate, entertain and introduce us to the acts who’d given their time. Throughout the show, Des asked us to raise our hands if we’d done some very common things – more hands were raised when he asked if we’d ever been depressed than for anything else.
The acts were varied and extremely entertaining, ranging from the cheeriness of our two hosts, Duchess Divine and Bea DeVile, to something a little darker from the special guest. After our compère asked us to smile at him if we’d ever put on a happy face to cover how awful we were feeling inside, Goodtime Mama Jojo came on stage with a beautiful masked dance to a melancholy song, cleverly illustrating how some people hide their mental health problems away. It was extremely moving and very thought-provoking, which wasn’t something I’ve really seen from burlesque before.
Far from just raising a bit of money for a worthy cause, Naughty Sorts presents One In Four really educated the crowd to the wide variety of mental health issues and the way they affect people’s lives. We thought about the inappropriate language we all sometimes use and the way the subject matter is treated as taboo within society in general. I do hope that more events like this will be organised in the future to help continue the good work.
Image of Jo King via The London Academy of Burlesque.