Holly Gallagher on Tensile Strength: 'I am a big believer in making work about the world we live in'

Holly Gallagher on Tensile Strength: 'I am a big believer in making work about the world we live in'

credit: Davey Poremba

Gallagher's new work explores mental health and the effects of stress

'I saw a piece of theatre a few years ago that I thought would be a really cathartic show for me,' recalls Tensile Strength's creator Holly Gallagher. 'It was about taking on too much and how that affects people. And in the end, I left feeling like it didn't hit the mark for me at all. So I decided to make something about stress and how life can get to feeling like it's all a bit too much for us sometimes.'

If Gallagher's inspiration came from disappointment at the failure of theatre to get it right, Tensile Strength addresses the worry that could be seen as a defining contemporary anxiety. 'I am a big believer in making work about the world we live in,' she explains. 'So I went into making Tensile Strength asking two things: do people feel the same way as I do? And if so, why are we all so stressed?'

Gallagher's belief in theatre's potential as a space for discussion (and even a form of therapy) doesn't ignore its power to entertain. She's been supported by veteran creators Third Angel, who have never been intimidated by exploring huge issues through imaginative formats, and mentored by Scotland's dynamic playwright Kieran Hurley. The intention to communicate and connect is at the heart of Tensile Strength. 'I mostly hope that people will leave the theatre feeling like they're not alone,' she concludes. 'One of the most rewarding audience responses I've had was when someone said they felt "normal" after seeing the show.'

Tron Theatre, Glasgow, Wed 20–Fri 22 Mar.

Tensile Strength

A play by Holly Gallagher about stress and mental health.    

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