The Art of Heal­ing

The Casket - - LOCAL -

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 park­bench­play­

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