When Zane Menegazzo walked out of his audition for Fragments, playwright Maura Pierlot knew she had found her Mason.
Despite being asked to prepare two of the play's monologues for the audition, Menegazzo only prepared for Mason because he didn't just like the role, he felt like it was written about him.
"I felt like when I was reading Mason that if I didn't have the correct support network that I do - because I was school captain, and I was a very high achiever in high school - and if I didn't have the support of my mum and my father I could definitely see myself [as Mason]," Menegazzo says.
"That was myself pushed to the extreme. That's what drew me so close.
"Once I get connected to a piece of writing, I kind of obsess with it.
"Seeing yourself in something is really exciting because, for me, I wanted to be the representation. I wanted to be me if this happened, pushed to the extreme."
The character of Mason is one of Fragments' eight interwoven monologues that reveal powerful and realistic stories about young people balancing emotional, mental and physical situations.
Seeing yourself in something is really exciting because, for me, I wanted to be the representation.- Zane Menegazzo
And Menegazzo was not the only one who could relate to one of the characters. As the young actor read more of the monologues about mental health, and shared them with friends and family, different people could see themselves embodied in some of the characters. For the young actor, that's what makes Fragments so powerful as a piece.
"I have a lot of friends and a lot of family members that are very broken," he says.
"I don't like sugar-coating things. Reading the script ... it is very raw and it's very real and it needs to be. It needs to be in your face because if it isn't and the issue gets sugar-coated people will think mental health a minor thing but it's not.
"I was so amazed that Maura hit the nail on the head and that's what's going to make people think.
"It's going to be really good to see it from every character's perspective to show that even if they seem OK, they're not OK."
Fragments follows eight young characters struggle to hold on - to family, to friends, to pieces of themselves - as they navvigate high school and beyond. Each day they work so hard to keep it together, they don't see their friends are struggling too.
It's a work which Pierlot has drawn on her own background and family life for, as well as anecdotes she heard in a series of conversations with 13- to 18-year-old Canberrans.
"We dump a lot on young people, who aren't fully formed yet," she says.
"The groundswell was that everyone was dealing with a lot of shit. Most people didn't have a clue and most of people weren't getting help. That was the definite vibe that I got. A lot of it related to pressure, stress from parents, from school, from themselves.
"I just feel as a society - rather than just talk about it like 'mental health incidences rising' or 'so and so who is famous has depression' ... we need to go to that next step and go 'we get it, lots of people are struggling' but now what?"
Of course, as Pierlot points out, mental health issues are not confined to young people. She herself remembers a time in recent history when all she wanted was for someone to ask if she was OK.
"Ironically even when I was writing about the issues and the fact that I was struggling, no one has said 'Are you OK?'," she says.
"Then a very close friend to me, explained not too long ago: 'You're the one who always presents like you're OK. You're the epitome of OK-ness. You fix everyone's problems. So people can't entertain the notion that someone who is the fixer, doesn't have it all together because then your world kind of implodes'."
It's part of the reason why Pierlot wants people of all ages to see the show. Yes, the focus is on young people - "they're under so much pressure" - but Fragments also aims to start a conversation about mental health and what to do when someone is not OK.
"I think even if people delude themselves into thinking that they don't know anyone with mental health issues, they do," Pierlot says.
"They just might not know it in an overt sense because that person might not have acknowledged that or asked for help."
Through its characters, Fragments gives a voice to different types of young people, from the bubbly girl who keeps telling you she's OK, the high achiever who's suddenly so intense and the boy challenged by communication.
Of course, it wouldn't be a modern play about mental health without mentioning the effects social media.
Pierlot is someone who values brokenness and imperfection - something she says is the antithesis of social media.
"Everyone curates their lives on social media - it's like we're all editors," she says.
"Everyone is striving for perfection and to be someone that they're not and you lose sight [of yourself] and you lose a bit of your soul along the way in trying to present this outside persona.
"My daughter is in the play, she plays the youngest character who is 13, who is obsessed with social media. So much so that she creates a fake Instagram account and kind of name and thanks to filter and a lot of other wizardry, presents herself online as someone much older which has potentially dangerous consequences."
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