A return to ordinariness: How does working alongside people who use mental health service effect theatre students’ attitudes to mentalillness? | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 4, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 2040-2457
  • E-ISSN: 2040-2465



This article reports on the experiences of a group of five undergraduate theatre students working alongside people who use mental health services. Our aim was to study any changes in students’ attitudes over the period when they were making theatre with people with mental health problems. At first students were keen to define ‘mental illness’ and to draw clear lines between people who had or did not have mental health problems. They were likely to notice differences and attribute these to mental illness and they were keen to understand how they could help people through theatre. The most striking consequence of students’ contact was a change from regarding people who use mental health services as ontologically different, highly vulnerable and in need of special care and treatment to engaging with them as theatre makers and learners: a relationship and a purpose far more familiar to students. We have called this ‘a return to ordinariness’.


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