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SHE shares stories about women and their real-life experiences with mental health

Artists open the dialogue around mental illness through verbatim theatre, using storytelling and the arts to examine societal issues



SHE (See Us, Hear Us, Engage with Us) is a new work created by Brisbane-based indelabilityarts in collaboration with The Good Room. SHE is about women and their real-life experiences with mental health, sharing authentic stories of mental health and recovery. 

In 2022, indelabilityarts collected over 800 submissions from the general public about mental health and wellness. These submissions told many stories and formed the basis for SHE.

indelabilityarts and the Good Room developed a verbatim text that reflected the real experiences of the diverse women in society. Their goal was to create work that puts women’s mental health stories in the spotlight and provides opportunities for more diverse audience members to see and hear themselves represented on our stages. 

SHE was developed, written and performed by, with and for women, engaging a variety of artists including key female members from indelabilityarts’ ensemble (all with lived experience of mental health and disability).

Post show, the project team engaged audiences in conversation and promoted positive action within communities.

“We wanted to hear real stories from real people about their experiences and we wanted to shed light on how many people are dealing with mental health or illness daily. 

We all know that mental illness exists, and that people’s mental health will have its ups and downs through life…sure we know…. But do we understand? Do we empathise? Do we truly recognise when someone is not doing OK? Unless you have experienced it firsthand it feels like one of those things that happens to someone else… ‘not me’. 

indelabilityarts works with a diverse range of artists and we know not all disabilities are visible – mental health is one of these – we set out to share the experiences of three emerging writers who have their own individual relationships with mental illness. 

Their journeys have been varied, but they share a common goal; to open the dialogue around mental illness and reduce the stigma. The challenge then was, how do we share their stories and yours? 

As a company we love a good collaboration, and this is where the conversation with The Good Room began. Their process of bringing everyday people’s stories to the stage felt like a natural partnership. So, we launched our submissions website and in doing so we opened Pandora’s box. 

Every single submission we received (over 800) spoke of personal experience with mental health and often these people felt alone in their experience. Bringing these conversations out in the open felt important – sometimes just hearing a story that sounds so like your own can make you feel less alone in the world, more seen and that your experiences in life are valid and real. “ Amy and Catarina – Co-directors of SHE

Two women - one sitting cross legged in a onesie (pyjamas) on a box and the other standing on a lower box. Both women are smiling and looking out. Photo Credit Orange Schmorange


When and where

The project took place from May 2022 to May 2023 in stages including research, interviews, writing, rehearsing and presentation.

Presented at Metro Arts, Brisbane in May 2023.


Key stats

  • More than 800 public submissions
  • 3 mentor writers
  • 1 design intern
  • 1 new work
  • 18 artists/arts workers employed 
  • Diverse voices - including 6 artists with lived experience. 
  • Access embedded into the show - lights for warnings, breakout space, care packages for all audiences. 


A woman wearing camouflage tights and a hoodie is playing air guitar - she has one foot up on a low block. Photo Credit - Orange Schmorange.



indelabilityarts received $40,000 from Arts Queensland’s Independent Creation Fund for the development of SHE.

The Independent Creation Fund (opened November 2021/closed January 2022) provided support to Queensland small to medium arts and cultural organisations; producers and performing arts venues to employ independent artists and arts workers to deliver new projects. This fund was delivered as part of the $22.5 million Arts and Cultural Recovery Package which acknowledged the continuing impacts of COVID-19 at that time.

indelabilityarts also receives funding of $360,000 through the Organisations Fund 2022-2025, to support its ongoing growth and delivery of valuable projects. 



Share our stories and celebrate our storytellers

  • Told real life personal stories about experiences with mental health
  • Showcased the work of 3 emerging writers - 2 of whom had never been through a process like this before. 
  • Worked with a 100% female identifying team. 
  • Provided professional development experiences for all of our team members. 

Drive social change and strengthen communities

  • The project used storytelling and the arts to highlight important social issues 
  • Provided a platform for mental health to be discussed openly without stigma
  • Challenged the stereotypical view of what mental health looks like
  • Raised awareness about invisible disabilities. 

A woman sitting on a box holding a smoke machine & blowing out while the smoke goes up - there are 3 green lights hanging in the background.     Photo Credit Orange Schmorange


Learnings and reflections

I've never done anything like this before and I was thrilled to hear my story and I can't wait to share my journey with Tourettes with everyone. Bianca Saez - emerging writer. 

The project engaged three emerging writers who were matched with a writing mentor to support them through the process. This project has given them skills and strategies that will help in their future writing endeavours. Two of the writers have never created anything for performance before so this has been a huge learning curve for them. 

We also employed a design intern for the work and subsequent season in 2023 and this has provided our intern with contacts, mentorship and opportunity to be part of a new work from development through to presentation.

All of the artists and creatives working on SHE learnt a lot about the process of building a verbatim theatre work from submissions and how to integrate storytelling and truth telling into the work. This was a wonderful example of reciprocal learning - we had professional artists in the room working alongside artists with disability and both learned so much from each other through listening, sharing and truth-telling. 

We created an online survey from which we received over 160 submissions - These submissions along with our emerging writers stories formed the basis of the script for the show. We worked with our Mental Health expert and our PlayLab mentors to provide pathways for us to cement this work in statistics and structure. 

Our actors and writers spent time in rehearsal and development creating the script and developing the style of the work. Working with the Good Room we were guided through the process of building a verbatim story that was respectful of the submissions we received and showcased the stories of our writers. 

We had a diverse range of ages, professions including those living with and working within the mental health sectors. Feedback from our pilot showings indicated that everyone felt that the work was important and that it needed more exposure. 

Following on from our showings we were contracted by Metro Arts to present the work in May 2023 as part of their curated season.

To ensure we were looking after our audiences we embedded access into the work in the form of warning lights, a break out space, care packages for audiences, auslan interpreted performances and pre-show chat including discussions around trigger warnings. This is something that we endeavour to embed in every show we create. 

Some comments from audiences from our season at Metro Arts in May 2023: 

‘Powerful, heartfelt, and original’

“Wow! Never have I ever been to watch a piece of theatre that was so inclusive and relatable”.

“Seeing work like this in my community is signficant. Thank you for giving us a voice, hope and perspective!”

“It was confronting, emotional with a powerful message that everyone needs to hear”.

A woman in silhouette is sitting in a yoga pose on a box with her arms reaching up to a box above her. Photo Credit - Orange Schmorange


Tips for others

One of the key learnings we consistently come up against is the need for flexibility. We work with artists whose needs are constantly changing and in order to support them in their storytelling we often find that we need to be open to adapting the way we work - including flexible hours, reduced stimulation in the rehearsal room - working in smaller groups rather than many voices working at the same time. 

We also provided the opportunity for our writers to record their words as some of them struggled with the formal structure of ‘writing words on a page’ but found it much easier to narrate their stories. 

Having a mental health expert available to check in with was invaluable to this process - we were encouraged to push the boundaries but this was done in a supported and safe way. 

We always look at ways to embed access into our work - rather than a last minute decision - so if you can think about this from very early on and talk to people who might be able to assist with this. 


What next?

indelabilityarts will seek further funding and support from venues to present the work from 2024 onwards to ensure the project has a life after its premier season in May 2023.


An image of 4 women speaking into microphones sitting on separate boxes of different heights. Photo Credit Orange Schmorange


Find out more

indelabilityarts is an inclusive theatre company that provides professional artistic and training opportunities for artists and community members who identify as having a disability. Our professional ensemble creates original work that communicates the lived experience of each artist across a range of performance modes to challenge the perceptions of audiences and industry alike.

We further nurture the social, personal, physical and mental wellbeing of participants through our workshop series that offers ongoing skills development and training for community members with a passion and interest in the performing arts. Through our inclusive practice, we aim to foster acceptance and understanding for those who usually feel marginalised, discriminated against, or excluded from arts practice so that they can access and make work that both reflects their experience and caters to their needs.

The Good Room is a Queensland based performance collective who use the anonymous experiences of ordinary people to create extraordinary theatre works. We ask people to anonymously share with us fragments and memories, confessions and admissions from your lives, as part of a process that blurs the line between‘ audience’ and ‘maker’ to play with the idea of theatrical collective authorship.