In late February, before social distancing measures brought Edinburgh’s cultural venues to a standstill, Stella Pyne and Liv Wade Jones hosted ‘Open Mind’. This was an open mic night to raise funds and awareness for Mind, a charity that supports those experiencing mental health issues. Hosted by the wonderful Vicky Macfarlane, the varied musical and comedy performances intend to empower young people to be able to freely and openly discuss their experience with mental health issues.
The array of musicians, including Holly Davies singing Frankie Valli’s ‘I Love You Baby’, Georgia PB’s rendition of Disclosures ‘Latch’ and Eloise Burchell’s melodic version of Florence and the Machine’s ‘You’ve Got the Love’ are all as equally entertaining as they were impressive. Bill Beaves also gives a particularly moving performance of Daniel Caesar’s ‘Japanese Denim’. Each singer puts their own twist on their choice of song and performs with the utmost grace. The rapturous applause that follows each act demonstrates the awe that is felt amongst the audience. Comedians including Benjamin Sutton, Alice Townsend and Nessa Blackmore also manage to create a sense of ease amongst some extremely emotional musical performances. DJ Seren Seo and the alternative rock band Street Asylum should also be praised for their memorable opening and closing sets.
The incredible sell-out success of the night is testament to the amount of dedication and organisation that went into the evening. What makes this evening feel so unique is the sense of community and encouragement that permeates the room during and after each performance. For some the evening is an opportunity to commemorate someone who battled and lost their lives to mental health issues, and for others it is a chance to feel empowered in sharing their experiences. Whatever the motivation may have been to participate or attend, it is heart-warming to see this many people coming together to inspire and support one another.
Liv and Stella have now started an online platform to continue the incredible work seen in this event. It is dedicated to raising awareness of the profound effects of social distancing measures on our mental health. So, if you’re looking for a way to fill endless hours of quarantine, make sure you tune into their Instagram and Facebook Live performances on their Facebook page. Performances so far have included familiar faces such as Rupert Waley, Gertie Gray and Livi Carpenter.
Liv and Stella’s projects are a great example of the incredible work that students can accomplish when they put their minds to something. Mental health is something that affects one in four of us every year and creating a platform for people to share their experiences through music and comedy has been an extraordinary source of comfort in these uncertain times. I am often reluctant to award any performance 5 stars, but I think this one is truly well deserved.
‘Open Mind’ ran at Cabaret Voltaire on 27 February 2020.
Featured image credit: Liv Wade Jones