This was submitted as part of my MA in Games Design and Development at the National Film and Television School. We had to create an interactive piece of fiction / theatre using digital actors. As I was ready to start putting together a piece based on Brecht's The Jewish Wife, I happened to go and see Fake It 'Till You Make It by Bryony Kimmings and Tim Grayburn.
The play, based on Tim's real-life struggles with clinical depression and the, often self-inflicted, stigma associated with it struck a very strong chord within me; it brought back memories of my own personal experiences with my father. My father lived throughout his whole life with clinical depression and episodes of extreme paranoia.
At the end of the play, I took a deep breath and went and spoke to Bryony and Tim who kindly agreed on giving me access to some of Tim's interviews. As soon as I got back home that night, I binned the work I had done for my original idea and started working on a new script.
In the next three weeks, I put together a project that combined fictional and sometimes abstract imagery with Tim's interviews about his struggle. My idea was to try and recreate the feeling of depression and how it affects the individuals suffering from it; the goal was to recreate Tim's personal experience with depression in a form that felt universal and relatable.
The first iteration of the project had about 30 interactions that were consequently thrown away as I felt that having too much choice didn't serve the script / feeling / experience, but I got there in the end.
On a personal level, I wanted to understand a little bit better the world that my father lived in. Artistically, I wanted to see if I could successfully capture the complexity of Tim's struggle, if I could create a deeply personal and, at the same time, socially relevant experience. Finally, I felt that the project, if successful, could be used as a conversation opener, as an accessible way into discussing the stigma often associated with male clinical depression.
In a way, I feel like I cheated; I used someone else's story to imagine and capture my own memories of my father's struggles, but the end product, I think, is both observational and still very personal.
For technical reasons, we are unable to host the fully interactive experience on our website. If you want to experience Manos' work as it was originally intended, you can download it for PC and Mac at this website.
Also, sound is an integral part of the experience and, whilst not essential, headphones are highly recommended.
What do you think? Incredible right? Do you think Manos has accurately captured the feeling of depression that Tim describes? Have you seen the play its based on? Let us know in the comments below.