Elevated Grounds
_I would like to speak with youth directly affected by mental illness.  For example, visiting and interviewing youth at a shelter or those on the street or even ones that have stable homes, but were once homeless, would allow us to gain a different, more nuanced appreciation for the people we portray.  This would also further motivate our performances and help us send a more passionate, forceful message about the ravages and triumphs of mental illness.   I think one has to necessarily have some sort of appreciation for the life of a mentally ill person to really bring the characters to life.  If this is lacking, I think it ultimately shows in the performance.  I suspect much of the cast, including myself, have had our share of experiences with friends or family who have been mentally ill or have been through some sort of serious, emotional crisis.  Mental illness really does touch everyone at some point in their lives.  I sometimes wonder about the friends I have had over the years, some with whom I have no longer have contact.  Where are they now?  How are they doing?  Have they overcome the challenges they faced because of their mental health issues?  I would love to know how they have progressed since we last spoke.  Knowledge of the experience of others is invaluable to a performer.  More specifically, knowing how mental illness affects someone on an individual level really helps us understand that we are not just engaging in a performance, we are bringing awareness to a topic that, despite the efforts of many, is still shrouded in mystery, surrounded by taboo and sometimes approached with disdain.

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