The Big Anxiety Festival

Things to do, Fairs and festivals
The Big Anxiety Festival
Photograph: Supplied

Step inside another's shoes and explore mental health (both yours and others) through art and science

A stacked line-up of artists, scientists and communities are dissecting mental health for Sydney’s inaugural Big Anxiety Festival. 

The festival, which is currently on until November 11 is an initiative of UNSW and the Black Dog Institute and features events, installations and experiences that evaluate common anxieties, stressors, up and downs of everyday life. The radically different arts and science festival will see art and theatre pieces informed by formal studies and experiences of mental health-related issues, immersive environments that replicate confronting and abstract situations, plus art exhibitions and public discussions all centred on promoting awareness and action around mental health. 

Highlights include an immersive audio walking tour, projection and 3D virtual reality project at the the site of the old Parramatta Girls Home. Parragirls Past, Present delves into the historical instances of trauma and abuse experienced by the children kept at the home up until the 1980s. An emotionally powerful and factually rigorous reflection of the ongoing work of the Parragirls manifested in this special, site-specific collaboration with media artists.

Give Me Your Love is a piece from unconventional and accessible theatre-makers Ridiculusmus. The play explores the use (and therapeutic effects) of MDMA to ease post-traumatic stress disorder of an anxiety-riddled ex-solider.

Additionally Grace Under Pressure sees theatre makers David Williams and Paul Dwyer explore the pressure placed on young medical professionals. Hinged on Beyond Blue’s 2013 ‘National Mental Health Survey of Doctors and Medical Students’ report (which rates of clinical depression and anxiety, suicidal ideation and suicidal behaviour among this population are twice the national average) and inspired by interviews with interns, medical and nursing students, the piece is a confronting exploration of the culture surrounding the medical profession. 

Tickets to shows and experiences are available now. 

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