Give Me Back: A multimedia production with an important social message

"The arts community must use its talents and skills to help cultivate awareness and understanding for those afflicted[with mental illness.”

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Article by Heather Nolan

SKC Originals’ newest play, co-produced by For the Love of Learning, brings important issues to the forefront with a brand new approach to theatre.

Give Me Back follows the lives of two teenagers, played by Evan Mercer and Laura Huckle, and the struggles they face under the shadow of mental illness.

The play is a multi-media affair, incorporating musicians, filmmakers, and artists in order to chronicle the thought patterns of Jonathan, a teenage boy dealing with the onset of schizophrenia. The play boasts an original score by local musician Ian Foster and film work by Jamie Lewis.

The performance will offer two realities: the stage reality as experienced by the character Anna, and the multimedia screen showcasing the alternate experiences of Jonathan as his symptoms commence.

“The intention is to give the audience insight into the way that schizophrenia can skew one’s perception of the world,” said writer and director Sharon King-Campbell, “and to encourage understanding and dialogue about mental illness.”

For King-Campbell, the journey of this piece began eleven years ago when a close friend was diagnosed with schizophrenia. Learning after his death that she was one of a small number of people who knew of his diagnosis, she was shocked.

“It’s appalling that anyone suffering from any illness should be so ashamed about that illness that he lies about it to his friends, to his family, and to the people who would be of most help to him,” King-Campbell said.

“The stigma surrounding mental illness in general, and schizophrenia in particular, is extraordinarily harmful.”

Actor Evan Mercer said that he feels the arts play an important role in social awareness.

“The arts community must use its talents and skills to help cultivate awareness and understanding for those afflicted [with mental illness],” Mercer said.

Bring Me Back will be running at 8pm October 8-11 and 2pm October 11 & 12, in the Etcetera Productions space, downstairs at Gower Street United Church. Tickets are $20 or $15 for students, seniors and artists, and are available online or at the etixnow booth at your local Orange Store.

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