Thursday, February 13, 2020

Theatre As Therapy

It is 3 a.m. and insomnia has reared its ugly head. Wouldn't it be more romantic to say the muse has struck and she calls me to write? Yes, but it wouldn't be the whole truth. Mental Illness Awareness Month isn't until May. But I'm aware of my own mental illness every month. And most days.

As an extroverted introvert who suffers from social anxiety and depression, my mental illness can be a little perplexing. I really *do* want to get together for coffee. And I also cancel a lot because I'm so tired - mentally, physically, and spiritually, that sometimes getting out of bed requires more energy than I can muster. I walk a fine line between soul-replenishing long naps all about self-care, and avoidance naps . . . sleeping to escape the anxiety of being social when my brain chemistry is out of whack.

I take Prozac and Busbar. I go to therapy. All necessary to  ensure I can remain a responsible, functioning adult. That I can get up and go to work, feed the dog, love my husband, and be present for my adult children on those occasions they still need me.

My therapist practices Cognitive Behavioral Therapy techniques.  My favorite is the grounding chair. And my favorite seat is the one that puts me in the middle of an audience excited to see the latest production.

And so I go to the theatre. As a member of the Richmond Theatre Critics Circle, that's my *job.* But it is also my therapy.

I am not a doctor and so this is not medical advice, but I prescribe the following:

Quill Theatre's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead closes soon, but there's still time to see Tom Stoppard's award-winning play. Influenced by Beckett's Waiting for Godot and using text directly from Shakespeare's Hamlet, this play is a love affair to the tragicomedy, and wordplay. It is the story of two minor Hamlet characters - Rosencrantz and Guildenstern - who are dead- and turns them into the bumbling lead actors in their own melodrama wondering why in the world they are not part of the play that is being staged all around them.

Quill's production is brilliantly directed by James Ricks. I was utterly mesmerized by the interplay between Tyler Stevens (Rosencrantz) and Adam Turck (Guildenstern). Joe Pabst is resplendent as the Player King with his stellar cast of Tragedians (Cedar Curran, Joel Kimling and Josh Mullins). The *minor* characters in Stoppard's play are Hamlet (Joel White), Ophelia (Mia Richards), Claudius (Travis Williams), Gertrude (Donna Marie Miller) and Polonius (Bill Blair). All give exceptional performances.

Theatre is better than Prozac.

And it is not too late to pick up your prescription.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead runs through February 16 at Dominion Energy Center. For tickets click here.






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