Saturday, September 1, 2012

Antigonish troupe wins national award

An article published in yesterday's edition of The Chronicle Herald:
By Aaron Beswick, Truro Bureau

ANTIGONISH — They’re not leaving anyone behind.

The Park Bench Players are going to Vancouver on Sept. 25 to receive a national award and they need help getting there.

The six Antigonish cast members aren’t your average theatre group.

They have all struggled with mental illness.

Their play, With a Little Help from Our Friends, tells their personal stories through humour and drama.

“The play has given us more meaning and purpose,” said Mike Martell, a member of the cast.

“To see it appreciated and to be helping bring the issue of mental illness out from the darkness and into the light, it just feels good.”

Psychosocial Rehabilitation Canada will present its 2012 Recovery Excellence Award to the troupe at the Vancouver gala.

But first, the theatre troupe needs to raise about $10,000 to pay for the trip, enough to cover the cost of all six cast members, three assistants and money for three nights’ lodging.

“For us, it will be the trip of a lifetime,” said Jim Mulcahy, a retired Antigonish drama teacher who wrote and directed the play.

“For these people in rural Nova Scotia to receive this national award, that’s a big deal.”

As part of their fundraising effort, the troupe is selling T-shirts and is putting off their own gala performance at the Clare Marie Gathering Place in Antigonish on Sept. 9.

Music will be provided by the 16-piece Good Time Orchestra.

They’ve also set up a bank account and donations can be made to it through any Credit Union in the province by registering a cheque to the Park Bench Players.

Originally intended for one performance in front of invited guests, the Park Bench Players have performed their play in front of 13 audiences around Nova Scotia.

While the award is good news to cast member Stacey Septon, the true payoff has been hearing the stories from people in the audience after each performance.

“The audience has come up after every performance and told us about their own struggles with mental illness or those of someone they love,” said Septon.

“To be able to help, it’s just the best thing.”


Photograph by Stephen Ayer

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