Friday, February 5, 2010

This past Monday's MHAI/ETD show was awesome!

This Monday ETD gave a wonderful performance at the Theatre Building Chicago for an MHAI awareness raising event. The evening kicked off with a reception in the Theatre lobby at 6 pm. Our guests ate pizza and homemade cookies while getting to know one another, and browsing the resource tables set up by both MHAI and ETD.

The play began at 7, with Eddie Jordan III performing Keith's story. Keith uses humor to deal with his OCD, and his story takes the audience through his ERP treatment (culminating in the day when he must face his fear of batteries, and the energizer bunny.)

Jaron (portrayed by Remy Ortiz) struggles with depression and self injury, leading him to a cocaine addiction and felony arrest days before he is to start college. He shares with us his journey from denial to acceptance in NA, and his belief that his experiences give him a unique ability to help others.

Our executive artistic director Brighid O'Shaughnessy followed Remy with Lisa's story. Lisa experiences her first bipolar episode as a freshman in college, and has to withdraw from school as a result. She fights to overcome her illness and takes us with her on her journey from that dark time to the happiest day in her life, the birth of her daughter...and the lessons that she learns from the postpartum depression that follows.

Next we heard from Cassie (actress Jenn Mathews). Cassie's story reminds us that mental illness is something that not only affects the person with a diagnosis. The effects of mental illness ripple out and touch the lives of friends and family too. Cassie's sister has paranoid schizophrenia, and Cassie takes us through the emotional ups and downs she and her family go through in their journey toward acceptance.

Actress Meredith Siemsen told her own story about her experiences with clinical depression, and her discovery that her father and grandmother also struggled with the same illness; something that she never knew about until a fateful day when she and her father stopped on a car ride home to have Chinese food-and a very meaningful conversation- together.

The final performance of the evening, from Craig Thompson, was Brian's story. In it we watch as Brian confronts the teacher who sexually abused him when he was child. He tells of the trauma and PTSD he struggles through years later as a result, and explains that he is proud of the man he has become--that he has emerged from these trials a stronger person.

The dialogue that followed the show was powerful, moving, and filled with deeply thoughtful questions and discussions about the stories we told, the way ETD honors these stories, and the nature of the illnesses and experiences discussed. I wish you all could have been there to witness it.

We have more exciting shows and events on the horizon, and later today I will be posting a follow up to this recap so that you can mark your calenders and come see what our performances are all about. -Jessica

1 comment:

  1. Jessica,
    Thanks for this post. I think you did a wonderful job describing the event. It was a lovely evening, and so nice to see familiar and new faces in the audience.
    ~ Oriana at Erasing the Distance

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