INSIDE CRACK – Spotlighting Schizophrenia

An Interview with Sara Scarlett Strachan

By Alex Morris @Nemiwai

“It’s always important in life to be a part of something bigger than yourself,” said 25-year-old Sara Scarlett Strachan. “It keeps you grounded in a way. Do what makes you feel good when you’re driving home after work.”

Sara is a driven person. She considers herself a storyteller, but she said her passion is really community development art. Along with her upcoming performance for Crack Theatre Festival of Please Mind My Brother, addressing mental illness, she also has worked with refugees and disengaged youth. She talked of the power of art and how, when a person can construct and complete a piece of art, it helps them to also construct their life. She loves art and also the power it holds for others.

“I really love to work with young people. I love seeing how art helps people grow and creation can make the world a little bit prettier,” she said.

Sara has lived in several different places in Australia and the world in her 25 years.

“I’ve always believed you can do anything you just have to take the steps to do it,” she said.

In part she’s referencing to the steps she took to study and work in film development in LA when she was only 19. That year when she returned to Melbourne (where she’s originally from) she learned her older brother Julian (who also goes by Gough) had become ill. She then decided to stay in Australia to be closer to her family.

His diagnosis with schizophrenia eventually caused her to launch the project she’s now fully engrossed in for Crack Theatre Festival.

She and her fiancé Robert Hogarth are representing South Australia as part of Crack Theatre Festival’s Setting the Stages initiative. They currently live in the Riverland, three hours from Adelaide. Together they are creating the first development of a theatrical experience which showcases how schizophrenia can affect families, and Sara is using her family as a case study. She’s the writer and performer in the piece, and Robert is the new media artist. Robert will be using his skills in photography, visual art and animation for the performance.

Her family has been very involved and supportive in the process. When she asked Julian how he felt about her creating a performance around him, she said he went quiet for a bit and then told her he had an idea for a song. Her 18-year-old sister is not yet ready to talk about Julian.

“I’ve interviewed everyone in my family, and my brother’s made music and we’re going to overlay the two, but it’s also going to be a bit satirical and postmodern,” Sara said of her upcoming work. “One of the things that could be misconstrued about the piece is that it’s an overly sad show.”

She said the show is going to be a bit schizophrenic in itself. She has a theatre director on board and also a psychologist from Headspace working with her.

“My show’s not about solving any problems, it’s more about showcasing someone’s life who is going through a really bad illness that may not be completely understood,” she said.

Along with educating the audience on schizophrenia and its triggers, Sara’s hoping to make it a little bit funny. She’s planning to incorporate food into the act as she’s Italian and food is a really big part of her family. Originally she wanted to cook pasta for the entire audience, but now she’s thinking it might be easier to cook Italian donuts. Delicious!

Catch Please Mind My Brother at The Crack House, Market Square, Hunter St, Newcastle CBD, on Friday 2 Oct at 8pm, or Saturday 3 Oct at 8:15pm.