Mandurah theatre school says the arts is important for mental health

Karen Francis, Mandurah theatre director and founder of Adapt performance training, has been working in community theatre for more than 20 years.

Adapt provides classes in acting, singing, dancing, physical theatre and musical theatre for juniors to adults. "It is a comfortable and safe space for people wanting to try something new and creative," Ms Francis said.

Ms Francis has worked with hundreds of performers from various walks of life throughout her career, and says that her driving force is providing an outlet for creative people to express the entire spectrum of their emotions.

"It is so important for creative people to have an outlet," she said. "I am inspired by helping people to stay mentally healthy through creating."

Ms Francis believes that theatre can be therapeutic, and that finding a community of like-minded people has made a huge impact on students in her classes over the years.

"I've seen kids come in feeling so apprehensive and shy," Ms Francis continued. "These kids have stayed with me into adulthood, and to watch them gain the confidence to get up on stage is amazing."

Adapt performance training and community theatre shows are not just for those looking to take the stage.

Ms Francis mentioned a time when a young boy in one of her productions approached her with an idea for set design.

"He told me he had an idea for set, and I told him I'd love to see it. The next day he brought in something he'd made himself - it was incredible. We brought his design to life on the Mandurah Performing Arts Centre stage."

"People need to listen to kids," Ms Francis said. "They have brilliant ideas."

Adapt performance training's ethos is to 'take people as they are and take them where they want to go'.

Ms Francis laughed when it was suggested that she was a "people collector".

"I definitely am. I collect creative people," she said. "Minds are creative. They will create no matter what - so having a positive channel to funnel that creativity into means there might be less time for the negative stuff."