High Quality Art Promoting Important Social Issues


Andrew RootComment

Director Rachel Bemrose and co-creator Andrew Root answer some frequently asked questions (FAQ) about Erasing the Stigma (ETS):

1. What exactly is a "multimedia dance spectacle?"

Erasing the Stigma is a performace piece that uses dance, monologue, interview footage, sound collages, live music and projections to tell the stories of people living with various mental illnesses. It's not a traditional musical or play, but more of an anthology of several different performance styles. It has something for everyone!

2. Where did the idea for the show come from?

Rachel Bemrose came up with the idea for the show when she noticed that her job as a teacher involved no small amount of counselling students through various crises. No one seemed to be talking about these very real issues that a huge amount of people were going through. Realizing the huge amount of stigma surrounding mental health issues, and the vital need to overcome it, Erasing the Stigma was born.

3. What was the creative process like?

Following AFA's first production (Next to Normal), the call was put out on social media asking for people to share their stories surrounding mental illness. Several brave people came forward and agreed to be interviewed. Rachel and Andrew videotaped the interviews, and Andrew edited them down into the clips that are seen in the show. Rachel and a team of choreographers set about creating dances which interpreted the themes discussed in the interviews. Spoken word pieces and live music were integrated to give a variety of performances, and the show was shaped into different segments, including Anxiety, Depression, Body Dysmorphia, Postpartum Depression, Schizophrenia, Medication, Addiction, the Legal System, and Supporters. Basically, whatever the subjects wanted to talk about, we tried our best to fit it into the show. Composers Blake RIchardson, Beau Dixon, and Stacey Reeds contributed original music, and the whole show came together in about 4 months.

4. Why remount the show?

The mandate of Art for Awareness is to start conversations and hopefully raise money for important social causes. By remounting the show in a bigger venue, we were able to invite students from local schools to attend, and spread the message about how common mental illness is to a larger demographic. 

5. I saw the show in October. Will this be the same?

First off, thanks for coming in October! Secondly, NO! We've added a few new pieces and done extra interviews with members of the community. So there will be all new content at this one-night-only performance!

6. Who does the money go to?

Partial proceeds from this performance goes to benefit the CMHA "Kids On The Block" program, which you can learn more about by clicking here. 

7. Any other community partners I should know about besides CMHA?

Sure! Team 55: Let's Tackle Suicide Awareness, The Human Services and Justice Coordinating Committee, The Schizophrenia Society of Ontario, LYNX Early Psychosis Intervention Program. We're also keen on the Four Counties Crisis Centre.

8. Will Rachel and Andrew ever collaborate on another show?

Never. Rachel smells funny and Andrew looks weird.

9. Where can I get tickets?

Tickets are available from the Showplace Box Office by calling 705-742-7469, or by clicking here. They'll only set you back $15, or $10 if you're a student! Hope to see you there on May 15th!