A NORTH-East writer is bringing a specially commissioned piece to the stage which explores issues of mental health and anxiety in young people.

Playwright Tamsin Daisy Rees wrote the monologue for Durham Book Festival, which gets underway on Friday.

Originally from Stanhope, in County Durham, the 24-year-old wrote the one-person performance piece after New Writing North asked writers to come forward with ideas inspired by the theme of living in an age of anxiety.

She has been working with director Anna Ryder and performer Jackie Edwards on the piece, which is a monologue by 15-year-old Teddy, exploring issues of unlikely friendships, loneliness and anxiety behind grief.

She said: “It’s such an open and interesting issue and it’s a hot topic at the moment.

“It’s something that affects a lot of young people and there are a lot of conversations about it. I’m not a mental health expert but it’s an interesting character to be writing about.”

She added: “I quite consciously didn’t want to have a definition of anxiety or to say whether this character is suffering from anxiety.

“It’s very nuanced – I wanted to open it up for a wider conversation.

“I love writing about the every day and the ordinary and finding the moments that are special and strange in that, so I felt it would be a good fit for the brief.”

It will be performed at the festival, which is being staged at venues around Durham city, over two weeks, on Sunday.

As part of the commission, she has been working with young people in the drama club at Wolsingham School, where she herself was a pupil.

She added: “It was scary because kids are incredibly honest but we had a really good time.

“They were so engaged and thoughtful.

“It was really interesting for me to listen to them and see which bits they engaged with.”

Miss Rees, who is now based in Newcastle and is an associate artist at the city’s Live Theatre, has been a playwright for around two years and has worked with the Royal Court, Bunker Theatre, ARC Stockton, North Wall Arts Centre and Northern Stage.

She is also an illustrator and works on other writing projects.

She said: “I’m really interesting in writing about stories of young people, and particularly of people in County Durham and the North-East because that’s not represented enough in the theatre.

“Theatre is very London-centric which is frustrating. All my plays are rooted in the rural North-East because I think there are stories to be told.”

The performance will be staged at Palace Green Library, in Durham.

It will be followed by a discussion, when Miss Rees will be joined by panellists Caroline Dower, head of the counselling service at Durham University, Dr Dave Tomson, who specialises in mental health issues and community psychiatry and Veronica Harnett, chief executive of Redcar and Cleveland Mind to discuss issues relating to mental health and young people.

The event is on from 3.30pm to 5pm on Sunday and tickets, which are priced at £6 and £4, are available by visiting durhambookfestival.com.

The commission is one of eight which have been created for the festival.