Looking back on CalFest

Hello there.   My name's Dave and I'm the writer/director of GAME OVER.

Just over a week ago, myself and the rest of the company went to Dudgeley Farm in Shropshire to stage a performance of our play.

We were there as part of a two day festival called CalFest, an event staged to mark the one year anniversary of the death of Callum Ward.  Callum took his own life  one year ago.  He was just 23 years old.


It might strike you as strange that our play,  a comedy about suicide,  was picked to be part of this event.  It was certainly one of my thoughts when I was approached by Callum's mother, Jenny, to bring GAME OVER to Shropshire.  She had heard about the play through the CCPE, the college where we were both training to become psychotherapists.  

After exchanging a few emails we finally met face to face.  I was immediately struck by her warmth and generosity.  Furthermore, I felt she showed a real strength of character in wanting to push forward this event, despite Callum's death still being so raw for her.  However I was mindful that the play might be too much for some people.  I explained how the material was very upfront about confronting male suicide and depression.  I gave her a copy of the script and music  Somehow, across the next week or so, we both arrived at a point where we felt confident about moving forward.  


The evening of the performance was probably the most nervous I've ever been before a show; our entire audience were from the village where Callum had been brought up, and  everyone had some kind of connection to him.  There was also an atmosphere.  It wasn't necessarily heavy, but it had a charge and depth to it.  Before we went on there were several talks, including Callum's dad and his best friend.  Being a father of two young boys myself, I found Ian's (Callum's dad) talk particularly moving.  

When the play began, I was relieved to see that the audience felt it was ok to laugh at the funny stuff.  As our story continued to unfold, there was more laughter, and later on, tears.  Afterwards, Jenny told me that seeing the play had helped people.  I was particularly struck by what she’d said about her daughter, Freya.  Up until then, Freya had been numb to her feelings around her brother’s death, but our play had helped her connect to what had happened.  

This show was in aid of Papyrus.  They are a charity that supports children who are suicidal.  A representative from Papyrus also gave a brief talk before the play.  They mentioned research that shows that talking about suicide does not increase the risk of somebody taking their own life.  

Having worked with suicidal people for eight years at The Maytree Respite Centre, I can completely concur with this view.  For me, talking about suicide potentially creates space to allow other things to take root and grow.  In the case of the weekend just gone, perhaps there will be some acceptance and healing.

A big thank you to Jenny for allowing us to be part of it.  It was a very special occasion which both myself and the rest of the cast will hold in our hearts going forward.

Take care,