Sarah O'Connor

Writer – Playwright – Cannot Save You From The Robot Apocalypse

As you may remember I was accepted into the HamilTEN Festival earlier this year for the play I wrote, Beep, a short and personal play about my mom’s death and how people who have never dealt with death react around people who have. It’s a very important play to me for obvious reasons and getting to put it on in April was such an amazing and unforgettable experience that wasn’t as scary as I originally thought it would be. It was time for me to write about my mom, about grief, and to show people how I had been feeling and I’m happy I had the perfect medium to do it.

While I was preparing for HamilTEN, another local theatre festival was accepting submissions. The Mind Play Theatre Festival is relatively new festival having run for only three years but it has already made an impressive impact in the theatre scene of my city. Its mission is on highlighting shows that focus on mental health and having creators write about and usually perform their pieces. I was so focused on HamilTEN that I didn’t submit to Mind Play and later regretted it because I love Beep so much and wanted to have it performed again. But I settled on waiting until next year, there would be other years to submit this play, I just had to be patient.

But not long after HamilTEN I got a message from Adam Bryan, the creator of the Mind Play Theatre Festival asking if I’d be interested in having Beep a part of this year’s festival. He said he really connected to the play and thought it would work well in the festival. I was shocked, excited, and accepted immediately. I couldn’t believe that one of my plays was wanted in another festival, had been asked to join it, and that it had resonated with someone. That’s the hope for any creator of course, or at least I think it is. You create things that mean something to yourself and you put them out their looking for like-minded souls that recognize themselves in it, but you rarely know if that ever happens. I generally just put all my words out there and assume they go unread, unseen, disappearing with everything else. But Beep was seen, Beep was understood and did all the things I wanted it to, and I can’t stop being touched by that knowledge.

I was lucky enough to get my same actors for the festival and like before they put so much care and love into something so personal. It can be hard finding actors and other creative people who share your vision, and I am so blessed that these three agreed to be in this little play twice.

Watching the other shows in this year’s Mind Play Theatre Festival was just as amazing. It was my first year attending at all and I was amazed at how vulnerable all the creators were and how varied their stories were. All different mental illnesses, coping mechanisms, traumas and tragedies, but the same laying themselves bare before an audience. It was inspiring and makes me so happy that a theatre festival that focuses on mental health exists in my city.

I’m still very new to the playwriting scene, this is only my second play that’s been performed and my third festival but I see how much theatre helps as a coping mechanism. Writing has always been cathartic for me but theatre has added such another layer to it especially with Beep. I’ve been able to put my feelings physically out to be seen by others, and to watch your own feelings be played out in front of you is such an odd and exhilarating experience.

Like with HamilTEN, Mind Play took play at a theatre that was five minutes from my mom’s work. It felt like fate again, like maybe my mom was steering me back here so she could see it again, if she’d seen it before. That’s when spirituality gets wonky, where do we think our loved ones go? Are they always their when we need them? I think my mom is. I can’t explain how only that it’s a feeling. I know that she’s with me and I know that she guides me in so many ways that I can’t see. I am so incredibly grateful (beyond words honestly) to the Mind Play Theatre Festival for giving me this opportunity a second time.

I know that she’s still guiding me, with Beep and everything I write, create, and put out in the world. Like so many others she has always been one of my biggest supports, and it doesn’t stop me from missing her every single day. But it also doesn’t stop me from knowing she is always with me, every single day in so many strange and hidden ways.

And like with the last festival and any future ones to come, I hope I’ve made her proud.

(Photo taken by me of a photo taken by Adam Bryan, the creator of the Mind Play Theatre Festival.)


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