Over the Wall Picking Apples

A one-man-show written and performed by Richard Crowe, directed by Ged Stephenson

Over the Wall Picking Apples is a brilliantly written and performed show, that gets to the heart of so many aspects of mental health – Trish Wheatley, Disability Arts Online

Photographs by Paul Blakemore

A one man show about men, mental health and identity

by Richard Crowe

So, there are these three brothers: Mind Your Own Business, Shut Up and Manners.

They’re out scrumping. Taking it in turns to climb over a wall, climb up a tree and pinch as many apples as they can.

As it happens it’s Manners’ turn in the orchard when plod arrives on the scene.

‘Ello, ‘ello, ‘ello,’ he says. ‘I don’t like the look of this,’ and he fixes the two brothers with his beady eye. ‘What are your names?’

‘Mind Your Own Business,’ answers one. ‘Shut Up,’ replies the other.

‘Where’s your manners?!’ bellows Plod, incandescent.

To which, as one, the brothers reply: ‘He’s over the wall picking apples’

It’s not the best joke in the world. But that’s not the point. To me, as a boy of seven or eight years old, it told me something. It told me: boys-climb-trees.

But I could hardly climb over the garden fence, let alone up a tree.

So if I wasn’t a boy…what was I?

The official trailer for Over the Wall Picking Apples made by Dan Gale, Somerset Film

Richard Crowe is probably best known in the south west for coordinating the cultural programme around the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic sailing events in Weymouth and Portland. And, locally, as past artistic director of Bridgwater Arts Centre, Arts officer for Taunton Deane and  a past chair of The Brewhouse Theatre and Arts Centre.

However, in another life, he started his career in the theatre as a writer and actor. And it’s to the theatre he returns to tell an extraordinary story of self- discovery.

It all started in 2014 when Richard’s laptop – on which he was trying to complete a novel – started to sing choral music. It wasn’t long before the washing machine then the fish tank decided to join in.

Quite unlike the depressive episodes Richard had previously experienced, what followed was a complete ‘breakdown’: days wading through treacle; nights battling demons; months wanting to go to sleep at night and not wake up in the morning.

Over The Wall Picking Apples is the story of Richard’s response to all this: his admission into the mental health service, medication (the highs…the lows) and the therapy that’s helping him put his life back together.

Expect an emotional roller-coaster as Richard squares-up to mental health no holds barred, placing it under the spotlight to face the frightening, the furious and the funny sides of mad.

The production has been developed with attention to the mental health needs of Richard, the team and audiences.  Our approach to safeguarding audiences with mental health conditions includes:

  • A post-show discussion after every performance
  • Sign posting information in the free programme notes
  • A trigger sheet available before or after booking
  • Volunteers from Samaritans present at every show
Phone 116 12324 hrs a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year,
a Samaritan is always there to help you

Out-take: not everything makes the final show. This is an improvised piece we filmed in Bridport at the Lyric. At that time, we thought the end result might be a more multi-media piece. This is one of several short clips we made with film-maker, Barney Witts, and makes references to London 2012

The Over the Wall Team:

Writer/Performer – Richard Crowe

Artistic Director – Ged Stephenson

Dramaturg – Chris Fogg

Mental Health Mentor – Viv Gordon

Designer/maker – Kasha Miller

Photography – Paul Blakemore

With financial support from the following organisations:

Arts Council England  – the major funder of the arts in England. Where would we be without them?

South Somerset District Council

The BARN initiative – supporting Somerset’s emerging theatre-making sector to develop, test and showcase new work in a predominantly rural context

Take Art – bringing diverse, exciting and empowering experience of the arts to the villages, towns and rural communities of Somerset

Dorset Theatre Consortium – Dorset’s venues working together for high quality theatre provision across the county

Activate Performing Arts – creating a thriving performing arts and outdoor celebrations ecology in Dorset, Bournemouth and Poole.

and the assistance of:

Lyric Theatre, Bridport – providing a professional, working base for professional artists involved in creating theatre, and a showcase for their work

Desperate Men – specialising in outdoor work and collaborations, Desperate Men have been inviting people to come and play for over 40 years

Mean Feet Dance Company – specialising in dance and mental health