Daley King’s Hold Your Breath (Count To Ten) at The Blue Room Theatre


Daley King. Picture: Marshall Stay
Daley King. Picture: Marshall Stay

PERFORMERS are often described as being a “triple threat” when they can act, sing and dance.

Writer and performer Daley King has his own trio of afflictions – autism spectrum disorder, bipolar disorder and asthma.

Born in New Zealand, King moved to Atwell with his family and said his experience growing up “certainly wasn’t easy”.

“There was a tendency for me to hide from all social interaction and focus on specific obsessions, which would change from day to day,” the 24-year-old said.

“I wasn’t diagnosed with bipolar disorder until 2014 and autism spectrum disorder only last year, so a lot of the abnormal things I did and the way I acted were with good reason.

“I also have struggled to keep jobs, study, partners and a life together in general, but with therapy and support now, things are a lot better. Art is a good way to keep mental health issues at bay.”

His first experience performing was in primary school, where he had a revelation in being able to express himself in a way that was not analytical or logical.

But the theatre bug did not really hit until Year 10 drama class.

“It allowed me to bring all the ideas that had swirled in my head since young out into the open,” he said.

“It was all about expression, which I’ve always struggled with. I’m not a huge people-person, but I put on a good facade.”

Daley’s latest production, Hold Your Breath (Count To Ten), is at The Blue Room Theatre from April 23 to May 12 and is about his experiences making art while dealing with mental debilitation and the process that goes with it.

“It’s a very meta-theatrical experience for myself and the audience, where they can spend an hour inside the mind of a theatre-maker dealing with these disorders and the struggle they can face in linking together their thoughts,” Daley, of North Perth, said.

“My writing is quite absurd, and witty, and darkly humorous, so it’s not a dour play by any means; there is a high electric energy to it. The subject matter is dark, but we’re bringing it into the light.

“There is huge stigma against mental health in Australia… it is still considered abnormal to be afflicted with a disorder and seen as something to be fixed, rather than something with which people can, and do, live with.”

Daley plays himself alongside Amy Murray, who is his psychiatrist, psychologist and conscience all rolled into one.

The production has been directed by Susie Conte and is named after a great instruction for anyone facing adversity.

“Sure, it’s not going to solve your problem, but if you give yourself a moment to breathe and think, it can help in the long run,” Daley said.

“I like to hold my breath underwater; it’s a wonderful way to relax and allow my mind to clear. I’ve always had a connection to the water, like a lot of people with autism-related disorders.

“I’m not alone in my struggles and neither is my audience. We’re all humans, this is a human issue, and hopefully we can create some change.

“Even if two people take something away from this show, we’ve done a good job. I certainly have, so we’re halfway there.”

THE ESSENTIALS

What: Hold Your Breath (Count To Ten)

Where: The Blue Room Theatre

When: April 23 to May 12

Tickets: www.blueroom.org.au