The Art of Healing
The national award-winning Park Bench Players (PBP) have ventured into a new arena with their message of hope and resiliency in the face of mental health challenges.
The PBP are invited guests for the recently launched exhibit – The Art of Healing – which launched Aug. 29, with a reception, at the J. Franklin Wright Gallery at the Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre.
The show, which will continue until Sept. 30, includes paintings, photography and poetry created by PBP members, along with pieces from friends who have also experienced mental health challenges.
“After seeing Patrick Chisholm’s paintings in the Park Bench Players’ play, I wondered if we might engage the cast to share their other creative talents in an exhibit at our gallery,” Shirley Hartery of the J. Franklin Wright Gallery said in a press release.
From that idea, aided by several conversations and a partnership between the PBP and St. F.X. Service Learning, The Art of Healing has been created.
Just as the PBP stage production speaks to the value of firstvoice creativity, the exhibit demonstrates the power of creative expression, to represent and inspire healing.
The Park Bench Players award-winning collaborative education project, which launched in 2011, utilizes a play to deliver a message of hope and recovery in a journey with mental illness. It involves the local health authority-nsha (formerly GASHA) with university students, community volunteers and individuals who live with chronic and persistent mental illness.
The theatre troupe presents a three-act play – With a Little Help from My Friends – developed from the 'first voice' experiences of the six cast members. It emphasizes the value of hope, courage and friendship, as vital on the road to recovery.
The objectives of the PBP project are to increase mental health literacy, reduce stigma and enhance the confidence and selfesteem of the cast, while building safer communities through acceptance and tolerance. The play utilizes a healthy dose of humour to make the show realistic and entertaining.
Audiences for the more than 85 shows staged by PBP have included health professionals, university and school students, the general public, various conference delegates, prison populations, as well as law enforcement and front line responders.
PBP cast members Pat Chisholm, Stacy Doiron, Louise Hall, Mike Martell, Fran Nunn, and Stacey Septon are joined by the production team of Maria Van Vonderen, Verna Macdonald, Jim Mulcahy and Ken Kingston.
For more information about PBP, visit parkbenchplayers.com