On the Horizon - March 2, 2018

Looking ahead

Hello, Happy (almost) Spring! I’m so looking forward to the shows we have this weekend – both Lion Bear Fox and DuffleBag Theatre’s Robin Hood, for very different reasons. LBF is a gift to myself because I fell in love with this group almost 2 years ago and am happy to finally be able to share them with you. I know their name is probably unfamiliar, but don’t let that stop you from coming out on Saturday night to enjoy their folk/rock vibe with me. DuffleBag simply makes me happy because I love the silliness they bring with them. Every time we present them for our young audiences I get to watch a new group of kids embrace their brand of fun, and I get to watch parents revel in their kids’ enjoyment of the simple pleasures in life. Humour is often underrated for youngsters, in our hurry to make them “little adults”. This is wonderful opportunity to be a kid, with your kid.

I have one other show I’d like to offer for your consideration today. The topic is not easy, but it is vital. It’s called Still/Falling, by Green Thumb Theatre of Vancouver, and the subject is teen mental health. The world our teens inhabit today is far different from the one we experienced, and one I’m sure we do not fully understand. The amount of choices and options they are presented with might seem to some like a huge improvement over the scripted lives our predecessors lived, but in reality many teenagers are paralyzed by the weight of it.

Still/Falling follows Nina, a seemingly normal and well-adjusted kid, as she tries to come to terms with what it means to struggle with anxiety and depression, and to rise above it with as few scars as possible. A realistic, honest, and sometimes bitingly funny look at the difference between ‘teen angst’ and ‘mental illness’ and the ways vulnerable kids can start to find their way out of the dark. Green Thumb Theatre chose to produce Still/Falling to encourage conversation and awareness and to help students gain a deeper understanding of mental health, and how it can affect themselves and their peers. They aim to stimulate empathy, debate and critical thinking, challenging audiences to re-examine their beliefs and prejudices.

We are presenting this brilliant theatre piece as a way to create conversation in our own community. Two shows will be for schools only, and a third is open to the public. On Monday, March 19, I hope you will consider being part of this conversation with us. We have priced it in order to allow maximum participation, at just $10 per ticket, and if cost is still a barrier, contact either Stony Plain or Spruce Grove FCSS. We are happy to have them working with us on this project.

I first decided to offer this presentation, as school shows only. However, while speaking with the Company, I became convinced of the need to bring parents and other adults into this partnership. I think it’s easy to dismiss subtle changes in our kids, thinking it’s “just a phase” or, as we said above “normal teen angst”. It’s harder to accept that our kids are struggling, and that we as their parents and teachers and caregivers are struggling to know how to help them. We really are all in this together, and it is of enormous benefit for us all to give each other the best support we have available.

Consider these facts:  
● Young Canadians are suffering from rising levels of anxiety, stress, depression and even suicide. Close to 20% (1 in 5) have a mental health issue.
● The number of 12-19 year olds in Canada at risk for developing depression is a staggering 3.2 million.
● Once depression is recognized, help can make a difference for 80% of people who are affected, allowing them to get back to their regular activities.
● In Canada, only 1 out of 5 children who need mental health services receives them.

Art has the ability to make us joyful, encourage us to laugh, and help us heal. Horizon Stage wants to offer those chances for you and your family. See you soon!

-Brandi Wurtz, Theatre Manager


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