Saturday, June 15, 2024

Gateway Arts Presents "I And You"

Written by Lauren Gunderson and directed by Samantha Scott-Blackhall, the award-winning play aims to highlight youth mental health

SINGAPORE – Media OutReach Newswire – 3 May 2024 – Gateway Arts is launching its second production in 2024 with the award-winning play “I and You” by Lauren Gunderson in conjunction with Mental Health Awareness Month. After its acclaimed original run in 2022, “I and You” returns by popular demand this May at the Gateway Theatre Black Box. The thought-provoking play delves into the power of human connection and the complexities of youth, addressing social themes related to mental health. Given that 4 in 10 youths in Singapore indicate feeling anxious or stressed all or most of the time, this production aims to raise awareness of this issue.

(Left - Zulfiqar Izzudin as Anthony ; Right – Evangel Wong as Caroline)
(Left – Zulfiqar Izzudin as Anthony ; Right – Evangel Wong as Caroline)

While the play delves into anxieties, it ultimately presents a story of hope and bravery, serving as a reminder of the importance of community during times of need for genuine, in-person connections. It delivers a timely message advocating for the human touch in a digital era and addresses pressing issues faced by youths who often live behind digital screens.

Written by one of America’s most-produced living playwrights, Lauren Gunderson, and directed by Gateway Arts’ own critically acclaimed Artistic Director, Samantha Scott-Blackhall, “I and You” centres around the lives of two students: Caroline, who grapples with liver disease and frequently stays home from school, and Anthony, a charming, confident academic achiever who also shines as the star basketball player on the school team. Despite their apparent differences, they forge an unlikely friendship when Anthony unexpectedly appears at Caroline’s doorstep bearing a copy of Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass,” prompting them to discover surprising similarities.

In the play, the protagonist, Caroline, finds herself in a whirlwind when Anthony unexpectedly enters her room quoting Walt Whitman. Confused by his presence, Caroline, who has been absent from school due to liver disease, learns they’re paired for an English project on Whitman’s “Song of Myself”. Initially resistant, Caroline gradually warms up to Anthony, intrigued by his dramatic recitation. As they bond over fries and personal stories, Caroline’s disdain for school and poetry softens. Their connection deepens when Anthony shares a traumatic experience from a basketball game, prompting Caroline to offer comfort from her struggles. Sharing intimate details, they forge a profound bond, culminating in Caroline’s moving analysis of the poem during their project presentation.

Hailed as “one of the best plays I’ve ever seen” by British news magazine Spectator, “I and You” delves into the unlikely relationship between Caroline and Anthony, two contrasting teenagers who forge an unexpected bond through the exchange of their anxieties and aspirations. Despite Caroline’s struggle with chronic liver disease and Anthony’s seemingly ideal life as a star athlete, their mutual exploration of literature unlocks doors to understanding, vulnerabilities, and openness. However, as their bond strengthens, a startling twist disrupts the core of their connection, captivating audiences with the unpredictable voyage of friendship and self-discovery.

Through heartfelt moments of connection and unforeseen challenges, “I and You” provides a poignant reflection on resilience, companionship, and the transformative power of human connection. As Caroline and Anthony navigate the complexities of teenage life, their story resonates with the audience, ensuring its enduring place in the memories of those who experience it.

The New York Times hails it as “a play with an explosive twist,” and testimonials from young audiences underscore its thought-provoking exploration of mental wellness. One young attendee remarked, “This play truly provoked new thoughts about mental wellness for me, lingering long after it ended.”

“I am excited about the restaging of ‘I and You’, a play centred on two teenagers navigating the challenging transition into adulthood while grappling with their identities and aspirations in an ever-evolving world. This play examines the mental well-being of many adolescents who retreat into isolation, relying on the internet, social media, and online gaming for connection. It serves as a coming-of-age story for today’s iGen youths, who confront unfamiliar terrain in building interpersonal relationships, alongside parents who struggle to comprehend their children’s needs. At its core, ‘I and You’ hopes to ignite young people’s pursuit of their dreams, encouraging them to seek solace in face-to-face interactions and community, all the while maintaining resilience in the face of life’s challenges.” says Samantha Scott-Blackhall, Director of the play and Artistic Director of Gateway Arts.

Priscilla Khong, Producer of the play and Executive Director of Gateway Arts, elaborates on how the production embodies the charity’s mission and unwavering support for the community. “Gateway Arts believes that the arts serve as a catalyst for societal transformation, and that inspired young individuals can propel this change forward. Through productions such as ‘I and You’, our goal is to utilise the stage as a platform to address the urgent issue of mental health among youth while delivering an engaging live performance experience. By fostering open dialogues, we aim to reassure them that it’s acceptable not to feel okay. We are dedicated to ensuring that the arts remain a steadfast ally in the pursuit of a more compassionate and empathetic society.”

“As with all of our productions, we aim to enhance the audience’s learning experience by providing activities that facilitate the processing of the play’s themes. For ‘I and You’, we will offer post-show dialogues with the cast and a counsellor from TOUCH Mental Wellness. We have collaborated with TOUCH Mental Wellness for this segment, and the learning objectives for ‘I and You’ include identifying the adverse effects of social anxiety and withdrawal on in-person relationships; elucidating the significance of face-to-face interactions in cultivating resilience and support systems, and outlining strategies to promote a healthier balance between online and offline engagement,” explains Priscilla Khong.

I and You will run from 16th-25th May 2024, tickets are available via SISTIC.
Hashtag: #Gatewayarts #art #performingarts #iandyou #PriscillaKhong #MentalHealth #MentalHealthAwareness

The issuer is solely responsible for the content of this announcement.

Gateway Arts

Gateway Arts is a not-for-profit Singapore-registered charity. As a theatre company for young people, our mission is to provoke thought, encourage conversations, and inspire change through productions that tackle current social issues amongst children and youth. We believe in nurturing emerging artists, attracting new audiences, and providing underserved communities with meaningful arts programmes.

Our Vision:
To imbue a new generation with empathy, positivity, and a love for the arts.

Our Mission:
Provoke thought, encourage conversations, and inspire positive change through theatre productions that tackle current social issues amongst children and youth.

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This content was prepared by Media OutReach. The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not reflect the view of Siam News Network.

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