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Holly Gallagher on stress and tensile strength

Ahead of her performance in the Coliseum Studio this September theatre maker Holly Gallagher wrote a guest blog all about her show, stress and its universal relatability. 


Hello, I’m Holly. How are you? Good, I hope. But if you’re not maybe you’re feeling a bit stressed like me. Or tired. (I’m usually one of the two.)

I’m beginning this blog post feeling stressed because I’ve not stopped all day and was also meant to send this over to the Coliseum yesterday!

I’m writing this blog post because I’m bringing my show Tensile Strength (or How to Survive at Your Wit’s End) along to Oldham Coliseum Theatre on Thursday 19 September. It’s about stress. (Hopefully some of you will read this and come along to see it when it’s there and make all of this worthwhile).

I’ve been touring the show around Scotland and England – it’s been lovely. 

Tensile Strength is a show about stress, that old chestnut. We’re all familiar with it – to what extent I couldn’t say.

I made this show because I am stressed, quite a lot.

I made it because I wanted to see if other people feel the same as me.

And because people love to tweet about living on coffee and never sleeping all the while everyone’s answer to ‘how are you?’ is ‘tired.’ and it’s DAFT to go on like this to be honest.

I perform this show because I like the catharcism of being She, He, and They, I like taking people on their stories with me, and I like briefly chatting with audiences through the show too.

I would very much like to have the chance to chat briefly with you too, and for you all to hear this story. I think it’s an important one.

When I was at the Tron in March, I did a post-show discussion where we all had a good chat about how we need to talk more about the ways to keep our mental health in good shape, like we do our physical. Afterwards a couple came up to me and said they know it’s cliché to say that over and over but it’s true. It is – and we need to keep saying it until people really listen.

Hopefully this show will act as a way for you to consider your mental health and how to make it feel better when it’s not so great.

I have had gorgeous feedback from audiences (so far!): I have been told that people ‘don’t feel as alone’. I have been told that the show was ‘bloody marvellous’ by someone who said it also put them ‘through the wringer’. I have been told multiple times that the show made people feel ‘normal’.

I hope you can come along and tell me how the show made you feel, too.

I have to scurry back to work now so with that time limit in mind I’ll end this post now with a fun show-related fact:

The Tensile Strength of an object is the greatest longitudinal stress it can withstand without breaking – so basically how much you can stretch something to breaking point.

I learned about it in GCSE Physics – seemed fitting for a title.


Tensile Strength (or How to Survive at Your Wit’s End) comes to the Coliseum Studio on Thursday 17 September. Click here to learn more and book tickets.





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