There are many worthwhile fund raising events throughout the year featuring members of the entertainment industry. These events raise much needed funds and raise awareness of important causes and the issues they are supporting. However, Out From Under will be more than simply a fund-raising event for Entertainment Assist.
The idea for Out From Under came when Matt Henderson put a call out to three of his friends and colleagues: Matt Heyward, Luke Hunter and Liam McIlwain. Some particularly tragic events had taken place within the industry, which prompted two questions, “Why is this happening?” and “Why is nobody talking about this?”
This conversation amongst four friends lead to the decision to do something and the idea of holding Out From Under was born. Out From Under will raise funds and awareness for Entertainment Assist, as well as examining some of the statistics that have come from an online survey conducted in partnership with Victoria University. More than 3,000 member of the entertainment industry participated in the survey.
Matt Heyward, currently a swing in Les Miserables, regards these initial survey findings as terrifying.
“More than a third across the whole industry – which includes actors, directors, crew, everyone – have reported mental health problems. Even more worrying, I found, 25% have attempted or considered suicide … and collectively we thought why is no one talking about this?
“We happily talk to each other about the fact we’ve strained a calf muscle – or any illness we have – but when it comes to mental health it just seems to be something we keep to ourselves. So that’s where the idea for the night came from,” explains Heyward.
However, unlike other fund-raising events, Out From Under is about education and talking about a topic that is usually not discussed.
“We can put on a concert, we know how to do that, and it will be a really entertaining, spectacular evening. But as of paramount importance as the entertainment, is the awareness – people who are qualified to talk about and address this in open dialogue,” says Heyward.
“We are all effected by it, without question; if not personally, then working with someone who IS affected by mental health problems in one way or another.”
The team have taken this intent seriously, inviting psychologists Michael Carr Greg and Lucinda Sharpe to be guest speakers at the event. Sharpe implemented a mental health project in the Australian ballet with the aim to instil in these young dancers the notion that they are not just dancers: they are people who happen to dance.
“This is a really important lesson for all of us. We love what we do, but it isn’t the only thing that makes us who we are. Hopefully that’s something that will come out of the night,” comments Heyward.
They knew Out From Under would require the right host – someone with intelligence, understanding and pathos. The first person they approached was Julia Zemiro who was immediately on board with the idea.
The team don’t want Out From Under to be a heavy evening and will create a bright and upbeat night of quality entertainment, but at the same time start a conversation about mental health that will continue well after the night has ended.
They hope audiences will walk away knowing how to recognise when they or a colleague is struggling and what to do about it. The principles can be applied to anyone in any industry, not just entertainment.
Out From Under is a one-night only event for all members of the Australian entertainment industry and their supporters. It will be just as applicable to those in amateur theatre as those working professionally. A diverse range of performers will perform on the night.
Confirmed artists and presenters include iOTA, Daniel MacPherson, Dami Im, Debra Byrne, Silvie Paladino, Michael Cormick, Esther Hannaford, Christie Whelan-Browne, Loren Hunter, Paul Malek, Rohan Browne, Fernando Mira, Aaron Mendoza, Kevin Nugara, Joe Accaria and Verity Hunt-Ballard. The evening will also include a very special performance by The Australian Ballet choreographed by Company member Alice Topp. Musical Director will be the acclaimed Chong Lim and the evening will be directed by Kelley Abbey.
“It’s a passion project, you know – it’s something we feel really, really strongly about,” explains Heyward.
Heyward sums up Out From Under in this way: “If we can make just one person go and get help then we’ve done a good thing.”
Indeed, if Out From Under can help just person to seek help then it may just be the most important event of the year.
Out From Under is on Monday 21st September at Her Majesty’s Theatre, Melbourne at 7.30pm