Centre Stage For Mental Health - 96five Family Radio

Centre Stage For Mental Health

Rowan Chapman spoke to 96five about his new resource for actors, and why he's so passionate about supporting those in the performing arts.

By Justin RouillonMonday 2 Dec 2019CultureReading Time: 3 minutes

Treading the boards runs deep in Rowan Chapman’s blood.

Born into a showbiz family, Rowan’s parents Chris and Sue, were well known in the Australian arts community as writers and performers.  As a young child the family toured the UK twice with sacred diarist Adrian Plass, opening for his live events.

Most recently Aussie audiences have seen Rowan on their screens as Sargent Norm Fraser in the Channel 7 series ‘A Place to Call Home’.

Rowan Chapman on set

Rowan in A Place To Call Home – Listen to the full 96five interview in the audio player above.

After completing a degree in Sports and Exercise Science, Rowan quickly realised that he needed to follow his true calling and trained with the QUT Drama School for three years.

But it was in the final year as Rowan considered his future, that he identified that the acting world can be a difficult and lonely journey.  He described it as a real light bulb moment!

“All the surety (of university) is going to peel away and I’m going to be responsible for me out there in the big bad biz.”

Rowan was the recipient of the Jennifer Blocksidge Memorial Scholarship, which is tailored to providing practical resources for actors.  It was with these funds that Rowan was able to develop a website aimed at well-being, and provide career longevity advice for actors at any stage of their career.

After four years ‘The Long Haul’ was recently launched, and Rowan told 96five that the website has a real personal touch for him.

“I’ve been living the life of a graduate actor for 4 years now, and understanding how it all works.  I’ve been trying to take on board my own advice, as well as the advice from everyone who contributed!”

“Those contributors came from a diverse range of fields and professions including studio executives, content creators, psychologists and psychiatrists, allied health professionals as well as the people in the trenches – producers, directors and actors.”

A Much Needed Resource

The Long Haul has been well received in the industry with Brisbane born Gyton Grantley (Underbelly, House Husbands, Beneath Hill 60) saying such a resource would have helped him immensely at the start of his career.

96five’s own Robbie Parkin has over 30 years’ experience in the world of drama, founding Harvest Rain Theatre Company in 1985, and landing roles in Hollywood productions such as Aquamarine.

Robbie Parkin as the pool guy in Aquamarine.

Robbie Parkin as the pool guy in Aquamarine.

He agrees that the information and advice contained in The Long Haul is well overdue in the Australian industry, especially for those who are just finding their feet.

“The hard thing for performers, particularly at the start, is that you’re constantly unemployed.  In other careers you might only go for a job interview once every few years, but if you’re a working performer be it TV, film or theatre, you have the stress and anxiety of what’s essentially a job interview constantly.  There is a mental health issue in the acting scene, and as someone that’s tried to work into the lives of performers over many years, something like The Long Haul is really needed.”

Rowan is quick to note that alongside anxiety, actors struggle more than the average person with depression, burnout and substance abuse.  It’s Rowan passion for not only his work, but a passion for helping others that’s really driven The Long Haul project to completion.

“If we say we care about you then we owe you a duty of care.  We need to forearm and forewarn you, and be there for you, having something tangible to resource and help you.”

“We need to act like a community – that human connection has the capacity to change people.”