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Understanding mental illness through theatre

Thu, Jun 16, 2011

Erasing the Distance (ETD) and The Chicago School of Professional Psychology embarked on an exciting new partnership earlier this year—an elective opportunity that gave students the chance to experience first-hand the power of storytelling in the healing process.

With the guidance of ETD Executive Artistic Director Brighid O’Shaughnessy and Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor and ETD Board Vice President Jamie Pekarek Krohn, students conducted and transcribed interviews from individuals affected by mental illness throughout the Spring 2011 semester. Students then edited and shaped those interviews into theatrical monologues. The monologues will be performed by professional actors in the world premiere staging of Finding Peace In This House, a one-night-only, free theatrical event.

Finding Peace In This House explores how a person’s “house” can represent many things—a terror-filled home, a body that abandons you, a haunting past, or even a literal prison. Witness the powerful true stories of six people struggling to find peace in their house…despite the shadows that lurk in the corners.

“When working with someone with mental illness or addiction, it can be very easy to see him or her as a diagnosis, a set of symptoms, an ‘other’ in need of services and assistance. What’s been exciting about this project has been watching future clinicians learn that while diagnoses’ are important, people are so much more than them. They are human beings with pasts, with stories, with dreams,” says ETD Executive Artistic Director, Brighid O’Shaughnessy.

The performance is free and will be at 7 p.m., June 23 at the Chicago Cultural Center (77 E. Washington St.). Visit erasingthedistance.org to book tickets.

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