A powerful play looking at mental health and male suicide is touring secondary schools across South Ayrshire.

Read Between the Lines has been developed by students on the BA Performance course at University of the West of Scotland and the South Ayrshire Community Safety Partnership.

It aims to reduce the stigma surrounding talking openly about mental health and suicide, acknowledging that doing so can save lives.

The play has been developed in consultation with experts including NHS Choose Life, Police Scotland, and South Ayrshire Council's safer communities initiative.

Students Andrew Wilson and Conn McGeever take up the two main roles, and helped develop the script.

Andrew said: “We wanted the play to be relatable and we wanted the dialogue to feel natural – in order to do that, the script consists of dialogue that was – initially – completely improvised.

“Conn and I positioned ourselves in the role of these characters and had a conversation, and the script was developed from there, implementing subtle signs that one of the character may be contemplating suicide.”

According to mental health charity Mind, contrary to popular belief, if there are serious concerns about an individual’s wellbeing, asking them directly if they are contemplating suicide is the recommended approach. 

Conn added: “The signs – in real life – can be difficult to spot, but sometimes we know something is not right, and simply don’t know how to address this. That’s the purpose of this play.

“We’re both really proud to be part of a project like this, and I am grateful for the support we’ve been given from UWS, South Ayrshire Council and NHS Ayrshire and Arran.”

The play is part of a Public Health Scotland strategy, which is also called Read Between The Lines.

Dr James Layton, programme leader on the BA Performance course at UWS, said: “Performance and theatre is a powerful tool when it comes not only to getting people to think, but to open up discussion.

“I am very pleased that the university is part of this project, and the work that Andrew and Conn have done to bring this play to life.”

To find out more about studying BA Performance at UWS, visit www.uws.ac.uk/study/undergraduate/undergraduate-course-search/performance.