Peter@huggingbarbedwire.com

Hugging Barbed Wire @ Brighton Fringe

Sunday May 8th and Sunday May 15th 2011


Stake... After radio interviews and rave reviews at the Edinburgh Fringe, the new show returns with a powerful mix of performance, spoken word, live music and humour. Based on real-life experiences of psychosis and recovery, it celebrates the courage of the people behind the labels - a father fighting for his schizophrenic son, a man coming to terms with his bipolar breakdown - and drives a stake through the stigma of mental ill health.


Wire... Wire braids two compelling histories:  that of Peter Wilson, fighting to save his psychotic son, Ross, despite the blind bureaucracy of the health service, and Steve Walter's personal experience of psychosis and asylum. The show also includes live music from Peter's sons, Ross and Owen and from singer-songwriter Steve Antoni, who himself struggles with depression and tragically discovered his brother-in-law dying, having taken his own life.


Taboo... Despite flaying your assumptions, Barbed is also an entertaining celebration of love and humanity. This thought-provoking fusion of personal experience, music, humour and audience participation shreds the taboos and preconceptions surrounding mental illness. Music, comedy and drama contrast starkly with graphic illustrations of the reality of the effects and experience of psychosis.


Reviews... Steve Walter and Steve Antoni received glowing reviews for An Acute Psychotic Episode, (based on Steve Walter's book, Fast Train Approaching) at the Edinburgh Fringe (2009) and Brighton Festival Fringe (2008). Peter and Ross Wilson have had their egos buffed by the response to their anti-stigma shows at conferences and in schools.


Peter Wilson… The title song, "Hugging Barbed Wire", was written by Owen (then 16) about his brother Ross becoming psychotic at 20 post marijuana. It is also how it felt to be a parent, desperately clinging to your son throughout a three-year psychotic sentence that included destitution on the streets of New York. Successful sectioning was the final (guilt-ridden) act of caring.


The reaction we've had has been startling. Presenting our story in public has helped others to "come out", to remember, to talk and to challenge social stigma. We can change the way society thinks - I've seen a theatre full of mental health professionals brought to the verge of tears listening to my sons' music.


Steve Walter… Our aim is to connect with audiences in a profound and dynamic way, since mental health goes to the core of our being and touches the very reason, or lack of it, for our existence.


My vision is for mental health to be discussed freely in every part of the country: over coffee, over a pint, without stigma, judgement or gossip."


Take a look at Steve’s web site: Making Connections Matter


or see more of Steve’s story in Fast Train Approaching

An Acute Psychotic Episode

The audience is drawn into a powerful emotional journey, executed with passion and surety of purpose. Walter soars beyond the pitfalls of the self-obsessed misery memoir, describing instead a small but important history of a human triumph. The blend of poetry, confessional prose and performance is hugely enhanced by the music and song of Steve Antoni, whose contribution effortlessly switches the pace and tone of the performance without ever losing the theme. Jim Ferguson: Edinburgh Evening News, Friday 14th August 2009

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Hugging Barbed Wire @ the Brighton Fringe - Review


Sunday May 8th: lunchtime and a full house! We hadn’t had the time for a full rehearsal - post set-up (no pressure) we had just 10 minutes before the first show.... The overwhelming reaction has left us with a sense of responsibility for the intense feelings generated in the audience.


Sunday May 15th: early evening - and another full house (and our second ever run-through). The same reaction - we all went out to celebrate on a post show high. Late night....


This is one of the most powerful pieces of theatre I have ever seen - as a daughter of a father who committed suicide and a sufferer of bi-polar (unrelenting/medicated/supported by amazing friends + family) I would like to say thank you - PLEASE take this work to a wider audience. THANK YOU. PS - don’t know what’s happened to my spelling can hardly see through my tears... Jane Bartley


Extraordinary – brilliant: Frances x;


This production touched the inner most sense – truly heart searching backed up with great musicality and true stories: T J Peters & Julian Fry;


I came to see it with my daughter who has has a similar experience to Ross ... I wanted to thank you for the honesty of the evening and we both related to aspects of it very closely. It was refreshing to have an honest account and i feel full of hope. The devastating effect of mental illness on the whole family and friends came across so clearly. thank you

From my perspective (daughter) I just wanted to say thankyou because since coming out of hospital I have felt so alone in terms of being a "mental health' patient,sufferer, in recovery- or whatever the technical term is. I just wanted to say that after seeing your show i feel much less alone so thank you for bravely sharing. Julie and Florence N.


Heartfelt stories. Very moving songs and gripping. Really enjoyed it – if that’s the right word! Maureen Rose


Very moving and utterly brilliant: Natalie and Kristen;


Remarkable insight, touched my heartstrings, very honest and thought - provoking: D Napier.


Thank you all for your honesty. I hope it inspires others as much as me to acknowledge the elephant in the room xxx;

Disturbingly accurate; Powerful and thought-provoking; A surprising, moving, entertaining and extremely touching experience.

Photos thanks to Ellen Montelius www.ellenmontelius.com