A regional theatre group is using humour to shine light on the realities of living with depression. Tripwire Theatre Inc.’s play Travels with my Black Dog is a two-person performance celebrating the special bond between a man and his dog, but also aims to provide a sincere portrayal of someone living with mental illness. Co-writer Megan Riedl said the play was based on her own personal story of living with a loved one who was experiencing depression. While inspiration also came from a relative who travelled with a dog as a companion. Ms Riedl said the play was a comedy to help make the topic more approachable. “I wanted to discuss and address the topic of depression in a way that didn’t frighten people off but was familiar and comfortable,” she said. “It’s something that is part of everyday life for a lot of people and we should be able to have a laugh about it as well as think about it seriously.” The outdoor theatre show uses a Volkswagen Campervan as its set, and incorporates both humour and insightful monologues. “We’re hoping that people might be inspired to talk more openly about their own experiences with depression or maybe even approach family members that have depression and who they might not have been able to speak openly with before,” Ms Riedl said. “There is not enough open dialogue about it in the community as there should be and so we’re kind of putting it out there… people can have a laugh and it’s a great community event as well.” It will be the newly established theatre group’s second performance with the group passionate about promoting theatre in regional areas. “We’re really encouraging people who are writing, directing or acting to be able to have work made and show it to their own communities,” Ms Riedl said. Travels with my Black Dog will be performed in six locations across central Victoria, including Ballarat, Smythesdale and Buningyong, from January 19 – 22. Ms Riedl hoped the outdoor setting as well as making the performance free would encourage a range of audience members. “People can turn up and just enjoy it without it being something they have to make a sacrifice for, which is what theatre should be about,” she said. “We hope to encourage people who aren’t usual theatregoers to come along.” For more information visit tripwire.org.au.