Rachel Harper is a Welsh writer and actress and the Artistic Director of Missmanaged Theatre. Missmanaged Theatre was founded in 2017 by Catherine Chalk and Rachel Harper who proudly champion an all female identifying creative team behind every production with an eye to telling unheard stories from under-represented women.
RATTLED will be Rachel Harper’s writing debut, in which she will also be playing the lead role of mother, Em.
Here is her guest post.
Last year, a dear friend of mine had a child. I knew she had experienced a traumatic birth and after several conversations, she opened my eyes and made me realise just how unknown the world of new motherhood is to those who haven’t experienced it. We are often shown the smiles and catalogue photos of what it means to be a mum but we rarely get to hear about the tougher side of motherhood. Mental health as a whole has been stigmatised for so long and whilst we have finally begun talking about ‘mainstream’ mood disorders, this certainly hasn’t been the case for postnatal mental health.
I began interviewing mothers and chatting about their trials and triumphs and it became clear that many of them had gone through incredibly dark times without any support, or people to talk to. This inspired me to write my first play THE EDINBURGH TEST, an in-depth look at birth trauma and postnatal mental health.
My company, Missmanaged Theatre, brought the play to life and took it to Theatre Clwyd in North Wales. There, we performed the production to focus groups of new mums, midwives, trauma councillors and birth story listeners. The impact was incredible, with one mum telling us she just didn’t know anybody else felt that way. That evening, I received an email from a mother who shared her bleakest moments with me. It was incredibly inspiring to know that she had seen her darkest days and come through the other side but this isn’t the case for everyone. This particular contact with this mum gave me the inspiration and motivation to write RATTLED, a witty and heartfelt one woman show set on a train station platform. A woman stands alone next to a baby carrier with one question, whose baby is this?
I will also be performing RATTLED and feel pretty nervous but if this play can start even one vital conversation, then I have done my job.
Again, the play is presented by Missmanaged Theatre, a company co-founded by myself and Catherine Chalk and is directed by Jemma Gross, a director and proud working mum to her two year old daughter. As a company, it is so important to us that any mums working on our show are cared for and comfortable, as the hours can be unpredictable and the work-load can be tough, emotionally. We are therefore providing free child care to any creatives working on RATTLED and we are also providing free childcare to audiences at our selected 11 am relaxed performances. We have teamed up with Bea&Co, a bespoke childcare agency who will be providing the team of child sitters, though babes in arms are welcome in the theatre too.
We want to create a safe and comfortable environment for parents watching. You even get an hour free childcare after to have a debrief and drink with friends!
It is so important with this production that, as well as supporting new mothers on the stage, we are supporting them as much as we can off the stage too. If this sounds like something you might be interested in seeing, hop over to The Old Red Lion’s website and book your tickets!
Rachel Harper, Artistic Director
‘When the mind is put under extreme pressure, it can fracture. Did you know that? Splinter into a thousand pieces. The more brittle the mind… the more the pieces’. Em never meant to get married. She didn’t mean to be unhappy. It all just sort of happened by accident… like running over your neighbours cat. Things always seem to just happen to Em.
Now standing alone on the edge of a train station platform, she just wants to know …whose baby is this?
RATTLED is written by Rachel Harper, directed by Jemma Gross and presented by Missmanaged Theatre. Playing at The Old Red Lion (nearest tube Angel) from the 12th of February to the 2nd of March (Tues-Sat evenings 7pm – Sat/Sun matinees 11AM).