Posted by Traci Brant, Artistic Chair
This weekend, Chicago Street Theatre was privileged to partner with Mental Health America of Porter County to host a very special production in honor of Mental Health Awareness month in May. Chicago playwright and actress Arlene Malinowski performed her one-woman original play A Little Bit Not Normal. The play took audiences on Arlene's journey into, and then back out of, the "hole" that is depression. As Artistic Chair, I've been reflecting on the project and how it relates to the work we do as a not-for-profit organization serving our community. Many of you may not be familiar with CST's mission and vision statements:
- Chicago Street Theatre's mission is to create quality theatre experiences, engaging the regional community in the unique character of live art.
- Chicago Street Theatre's vision is a community that embraces the performing arts as a defining and treasured expression of life.
We don't tout our mission and vision a lot. We're busy living it through making art so I don't think about it very often--until this weekend, when it leapt to the forefront of my mind. Bringing A Little Bit Not Normal to the stage embodied those statements.
As I sat in auditorium during the post-play discussion, the incomparable power of sharing stories live and in-person was palpable. The same story could have been read on the web or watched on TV or heard on the radio and it would have been interesting and moving, no doubt. BUT, viewing this very personal piece of art with a group of people who were clearly connecting with her work on stage is an experience that can ONLY be had at a live theatre performance.
The performance also really embodied CST's vision that art should be an expression of life. Arlene's play is just that... an expression of her life. Then, audiences engage with the piece and it reflects and expresses their lives and gives them insight into people they know or situations they've experienced personally. It may even cause them to change their outlook on the world or their interaction with one another. That's powerful. Her play was powerful. I will treasure the experience of watching it at Chicago Street Theatre for a long time to come.
I am so overwhelming proud of this collaboration of artists and community organizations. Thank you to all who were able to join us, to those that shared their insights and stories during the post-play discussion, to Arlene and her talented crew, to those who volunteered for the event, and to our sponsors who believed in this beautiful endeavor.