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Milwaukee Public Theatre is one of the area's few professional nonprofit touring companies that increases awareness of current social issues, promotes cultural diversity, and provides healing arts and wellness resources.
Artists & Performers include:
musicians - classical, jazz, hip hop, pop, world cultures, drummers, Broadway, opera, operetta
dancers - all styles
actors - classical characters, historical impersonators, improv performers
craft & workshop artists
face and body painters
flag & fire spinners
Approximately 20% of adolescents have a diagnosable mental health disorder. Suicide is the third leading cause of death in adolescents and young adults. These and other factors underline the importance of meeting the mental health needs of this age group.
And yet, it is estimated that 70 to 80 percent of these children get inappropriate mental health services or no help at all. The lack of education about these diseases leaves the warning signs unrecognized, and countless lives ruined.
Two organizations in Milwaukee take a unique approach to the subject in Pieces: In My Own Voice, an original theatrework presented by NAMI Greater Milwaukee and Milwaukee Public Theatre in February and March, 2013—thanks in part to a contract with Milwaukee Public Schools, which has been and continues to be committed to educating students about mental illness and providing mental health services for students in need.
The production is an original play by Brenda Wesley that educates young audiences about mental illness, dispels stereotypes, and provides ongoing informational resources. Originally developed by the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Greater Milwaukee (NAMI), the show was further adapted for teens in collaboration with Milwaukee Public Theatre and students from the Milwaukee High School of the Arts in 2012.
The 2013 production features a mixed teen and adult cast and is touring to five area high schools,bringing to life the people behind the labels of “Schizophrenia”, “ADHD”, “Depression”, “Anxiety”, “Bi-Polar Disorder” and “Suicide”.
Performances were scheduled:
The production is a creative component of the successful ASK (Access, Support & Knowledge) program, which was developed by NAMI. The five-site tour in spring 2013 is sponsored by Milwaukee Public Schools, Mental Health America/Prevent Suicide of Greater Milwaukee, the Brewers Community Fund, the Charles E. Kubly Foundation, the Helen Bader Foundation, United Performing Arts Fund, CAMPAC Milwaukee County, and the Milwaukee Arts Board and the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts. Special thanks to Dr. Gregory Thornton and MPS.
What people say . . .
"I was just blown away by the performance Pieces. What a wonderful idea! I have been a Licensed Clinical Psychologist for 25 years, and have yet to be able to describe mental health in such an illustrative fashion." --Dr. Ingrid D. Hicks
"I was thinking about how every person can identify with one of the characters. You have brought us closer to erasing stigma, this production should be brought into every school." --Barbara Rodriguez Sorensen
Read more about the production, see cast lists, biographies and photos. Pieces is also independently presented to a variety of local audiences.
In the fall of 2012, Pieces was presented as part of MPT's Tap the Potential events, with a professional adult cast at: Reuther Central High School, Kenosha; for MPS principals at North Division High; Prince of Peace School; and Brown Deer High School.
In the spring of 2012, ten multi-cultural teenagers from the Milwaukee High School of the Arts brought the people behind the labels to life, and presented Pieces to Milwaukee High School of the Arts; South Division H.S.; Youth Leadership Conference; Roosevelt Middle School of the Arts; Hopkins-Lloyd School; Northwest Secondary; Rogers St. Academy/Davis Boys & Girls Club; Hamilton High School; North Division; Alliance School; and Milwaukee High School of the Arts.
The 2012 school tour was supported by the MPS Partnership for the Arts, the Wisconsin Arts Board, the Helen Bader Foundation, Milwaukee County CAMPAC and the United Performing Arts Fund. Additional staffing support for the 2012 school performances was provided by City Year and ACLU Public Art Student Alliance (PASA).
Please contact MPT at 414-347-1685 or by email for further information.
Quotes from the 2012 youth cast:
"Even if someone looks like they're happy, they might be hiding a mental disorder." --Jackie Perez (role: Bipolar Disorder)
"A lot of people have these disorders and making fun of them or judging them doesn't help, what they need is support" --Tyree Madlock (role: PTSD)
"On TV you always see adults having or showing symptoms of these disorders but no one pays attention to the fact that kids have them as well." --Niko Galvan (role: ADHD)
"No one can really judge because you don't know what they're going through, they could be suicidal and you could push them over the edge." --Summera Pillard (role: Narrator)
"Even with dealing with it I've learned I'm not the only one, the script describes how I am, so I know I'm not crazy, there are other people who feel this way." --Annaleah Lovelace (role: Major Depression)
"You shouldn't laugh at anyone because it might lead to suicide or something worse, it could bring down their self esteem, you should reach out and try to help." --Champange Goss (role: PTSD)
"Many people have these disorders due to a trauma that occurred in their lives. Tormenting someone who survived a fire is much like ridiculing someone with a mental disorder, the only difference is that in the sickness of someone with a mental disorder, the fire took place internally." --Paige Coe (Stage Manager)
See also MPT's Healing Arts and Wellness Programming.
Find a list of more original theatreworks on contemporary themes and social issues which MPT can tour to your site, as well as a list of recently staged feature shows.
CUSTOMIZED EVENTS: Have a show or event idea you'd like us to create for you? Call MPT Special Projects Director for a detailed quote: 414-347-1685