Here you will find resources for Do You Mind? school performances and workshops
BearDog is a collaborative and interdisciplinary performance company formed by improviser and director Calum Anderson and puppeteer Joni-Rae Carrack. BearDog create high quality low-fi theatre for fringe theatre audiences.
Joni-Rae Carrack is a puppeteer and performer who creates work about the big and small issues that affect us all. She tells the stories seldom told with a mixture of puppetry, honesty and compassion. Joni-Rae creates work that is accessible, relatable and doesn’t hide behind theatrical illusion. Her current work focuses on mental health, smashing the stigma surrounding it and exploring the impact it has on everyday life. She makes work mostly with her companies Sort Of Theatre and BearDog, and has been frequently programmed at the Little Angel Theatre, the Barbican Pit Theatre, the Brighton Fringe Festival and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. She graduated from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama with an MA in Advanced Theatre Practice in 2015. She is also an experienced workshop leader and has regularly taught puppetry skills and arts & crafts to both adults and children for the past 4 years
Do You Mind? Overview
Do You Mind? was devised in 2015 and is a one woman show that borrows elements of puppetry, storytelling and TED talks to explore Anxiety disorders and considers how we talk about the most vulnerable parts of ourselves. Do You Mind? balances the feel of a solo stand-up show with the depth of theatre to create a piece that can both entertain and educate and allow them room to consider their own emotions and how honest we can be in a new relationship.
It toured between 2015-2017 at the Brighton Fringe Festival, the Swindon Fringe Festival, the Pleasance (as part for the Little Angel Suspense Festival) the Spread Eagle and the Space (as part of the One Festival).
Joni-Rae was diagnosed with Generalised Anxiety Disorder in 2001 when she was just 11 years old and has lived with it since. Raising awareness and speaking honestly about her experiences with anxiety, to make sure no one (and especially no child) feels alone with the condition is a huge driving force in her work. Anxiety disorders make up a large proportion of the diagnosed mental health disorders across the world and in 2013 there were 8.2 million diagnosed cases in the UK alone. Do You Mind? is one of the few shows that directly addresses the experience of living with one of these disorders. The piece has so far received very positive feedback from people with and without health problems for the message it conveys and for its artistic merit
Why did you make Do You Mind?
I was really keen to do something about mental health and it was an idea that had been swirling around my mind for years. When I first thought about it, people were only just starting to really talk about mental health and there wasn't much theatre about it. So I knew it was something I wanted to talk about in my theatre work. A lot of my work has featured things we find as a society hard to talk about; if anything, those are the subjects I find the most interesting. They are a challenge and I have to think creatively about how I can find a "voice" for these subjects, which may be puppetry, images, music, atmosphere rather than talking. I tend to think in images when I make theatre and often I will end up with quite a few that I then have to find what links them together. For Do You Mind? the more I was exploring, researching and thinking about mental health, the more I realised I had to explore my own struggle with mental health. If I was interested in telling other peoples stories, I had to start with my own otherwise would it really be fair? I then had a moment when I felt like I someone very new about my diagnosis and I realised that was the start of the story. I had to make a show about something that is hard to talk about, by exploring just how hard it is to talk about.
What is the most important part of the show for you?
The most important part is the puppetry. I get a real thrill from performing with all the different forms of puppetry I use. They have a way of showing and telling things that are so difficult to do as a person. They really help to encourage feelings of empathy as well. I always feel a bit more confident when I get to the bits with the puppetry! I feel I can trust them and I can give all my focus and concentration to them. It can really settle any nerves I'm feeling.
But also the most important part is the performing! Theatre is something that is made to be shared almost more than any other art form. I love how different every audience is, Do You Mind? is very much a conversation with each audience member. I love bringing them into the world. I also love seeing people afterwards and there is almost always someone who wants to talk usually about their own experiences with difficult mental health. It's so rewarding to hear their thoughts and is exactly why I made the show in the first place.
What other work inspired you and how did any of that come through in the finished piece?
Definitely the Handspring Puppet Company who are best known for making and devising the puppetry in War Horse. They have a very long history of amazing pieces of puppetry work that has pushed the role of puppet, puppeteer and actor and how they all work together to create a well balanced piece of theatre. It's easy to forget how much of a risk making War Horse was; we wouldn't see as much theatre as we do with puppetry in the UK without them!
Blind Summit also really celebrate puppetry and what puppets can do that human actors can't like defying physics and loosing limbs.