For many students, performing in front of a group or a large audience can be something they dread or are not comfortable doing. For others, like the students at Thresholds Theatre in Chicago, it is a way for those with mental disorders and disabilities to share their experiences with others and tell their unique stories.
Sharing personal stories and experiences with others is a common therapeutic for those who have mental illness or disorders. In their 7 month program, people from all over the community come together to share their own personal stories. The groups do exercises and games that allow them to bounce around ideas. After a few months of bonding and sharing, when the students are comfortable, they start to build material that will be used in their show. Participants practice hard for the production, which is held in a live theatre and is put on anywhere from 7 to 12 times.
Threshold, which is Chicago’s largest mental health agency, has many different programs for people with mental disabilities. In the production, personal stories, poems and other works of art are all used. For the first time, they were able to incorporate many deaf participants because of the interpreter on staff that was able to attend all rehearsals.
For those who are participating in the program, it is a great way to share and listen to others who have been through similar situations. Those who attend the performances are able to see not only the stories and experiences from those in the program, but the hard work and dedication each one has put into each performance.
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