Monday, July 11, 2011

Finding Peace in This House

Erasing the Distance and The Chicago School for Professional Psychology recently completed our fruitful, five-month partnership with a one-night-only performance of Finding Peace in This House at the Chicago Cultural Center. The show featured actors performing six true stories about individuals struggling with mental health issues as they strive to find peace in their lives. The evening was a resounding success, complete with a packed house and standing ovation. Afterward, the director and cast were joined onstage by the story collectors and one storyteller for an emotionally thrilling post-show discussion.

Hillary Doyle is one of The Chicago School students who collected a story and crafted it into a monologue for the show. She chose to interview her friend Brian, a man battling depression and while serving time in prison. Hillary shared with us a little about what this partnership and experience has meant to her.

What an amazing, life-changing, powerful process! The collaboration between Erasing the Distance and The Chicago School was a great opportunity for me, as a Clinical Psychology doctorate student, to throw my textbook out the window and better appreciate the subjective experiences of individuals who have experienced mental illness. Working with Erasing the Distance has allowed me to gain a sense of empathy and understanding of mental health issues that has surpassed the knowledge I’ve learned in my training thus far. The process of interviewing Brian, transcribing the interview, and forming it into a monologue was a rigorous yet rewarding process. Brian mentioned several times in the past that he wanted to write a memoir about his life, so when I heard about ETD, I knew Brian would be interested in sharing his story. Wes, the actor who portrayed Brian, was able to accurately tell Brian’s story and expose the confusion, depression, and anger that Brian described while telling his story. I wish Brian could have been in the audience at the show to witness the powerful reactions and support of the audience members. I was excited and inspired by the support of the community and those who came together at Finding Peace in this House.

Actor Wes Clark performs the story of Brian.

The cast of Finding Peace in This House get ready to take their bow.

Director Brighid O'Shaughnessy leads an enthusiastic post-show Q&A in the Chicago Cultural Center's beautiful Claudia Cassidy Theater.

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