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http://www.concordia.ca/content/shared/en/news/finearts/2018/06/nobodys-perfect-play-about-mental-health-opens-this-week-at-loyola.html

Nobody's Perfect: Play about mental health opens this week at Loyola

Centre for the Arts in Human Development bi-annual theatre performance is both a form of therapy and a research-creation project
June 11, 2018
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By Kerry McElroy

Photos from rehearsals of Nobody's Perfect Photos from rehearsals of Nobody's Perfect by Lenore Vosberg

In 1993, Montreal social worker Lenore Vosberg had an idea for a fundraiser: to put on a play with adults with developmental disabilities. She reached out to Stephen Snow, then a Concordia Theatre professor, to form a partnership and realize that first year’s production.

Eventually, Vosberg and Snow along with Miranda D’Amico in the Department of Education, co-founded Concordia’s Centre for the Arts in Human Development (CAHD). Now, says Vosberg (the Centre’s Executive Director), we're in our twenty-second year.

This year’s CAHD play, Nobody’s Perfect: A Theatrical Exploration of Mental Health, will be staged for three nights, from June 14 to 16. It’s the twelfth play staged by the Centre, all of which feature original music and content.

‘A therapeutic experience for the participants’

The initial idea allowed the organizers to see this annual event as something bigger than a heartwarming performance for friends, family and the general public. The play functions as graduate student training in creative arts therapies, a form of therapy, and a research-creation event.

“We aim for it to be a therapeutic experience for the participants, and we measure this, pre- and post-performance,” explains Snow, who is now a Professor in the Department of Creative Arts Therapies.

Surveys have shown that after the play, the performers report increased confidence, while audience members report changes in perception of people with disabilities.

CAHD’s bi-annual play draws local and international attention to Concordia’s one-of-a-kind Creative Arts Therapies (CATS) program. This year’s show features American performer and disability academic Andrea DeCrescenzo as a visiting scholar and the play’s narrator.

DeCrescenzo, who came at Snow’s invitation, plans to bring some of Concordia’s innovative drama therapy practices back to her home in Vero Beach, Florida.

“There’s not a lot of drama therapy there now. I would like to start a program similar to what Stephen has done here,” she says.

An ethnodrama drawing on personal stories

Photos from rehearsals of Nobody's Perfect Photos from rehearsals of Nobody's Perfect by Lenore Vosberg

Every second year, Snow has created the original content play in the form of an ethnodrama that draws on the actors’ personal stories.

“Mental health education usually comes from the ivory tower. It doesn't happen often that impacted people can contribute to knowledge themselves, or that people with developmental disabilities or mental illness can provide education to the public,” Says Bill Yong, movement director of Nobody’s Perfect and a CATS MA student.

Assistant director Lillian G. Rivera Valerdi (another CATS MA student) says that in this process, many participants will appear onstage for the first time. Initially, some were worried about the challenges of performing with learning disabilities, but Rivera Valerdi has seen them “change absolutely” from the Fall to these final rehearsal weeks of the show.

‘I practice every day at home’

Nobody’s Perfect includes twelve adult performers with developmental disabilities, who also create the art shown in the production.

“I love to paint,” says Mike Wilson, a performer who has been involved in the group for two years. Wilson says he practices everyday, at home and at his job. "Basically, I sing. When I came here the first time, I couldn’t sing. I hope it will be a good show. It takes a lot of work.”

“We’re working very hard. We know that it might not be perfect, but it’s in the title! Mostly we hope the audience will have a great experience with us,” concludes Rivera Valerdi.

Nobody’s Perfect has a three-night run on June 14th, 15th, and 16th, at the St. Ignatius of Loyola Church Auditorium, 4455 West Broadway, adjacent to Concordia’s Loyola Campus.

For tickets please call: 514-848-8616 or email: cindy.pratt@concordia.ca. $20 in advance and $25 at the door.



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