Around The World & Home Again: Mental Health Takes Centre Stage
By David DeRocco
Mental health will be front and centre in an upcoming world-premiere performance of a stage production written, directed and performed by some on Niagara’s most talented artists.
The Essential Collective Theatre proudly presents Around the World & Home Again – A Benefit for The Canadian Mental Health Association – a night of music and storytelling that will benefit the Niagara chapter of the CMHA. The production tells the autobiographical story about a Niagara singer who travels the world only to discover there’s no place like home. That singer is powerhouse vocalist Tenja Hagenberg, who will be joined onstage by TD Jazz Feswtival co-founder and musical director Peter Shea and a six-piece band in an eclectic mix of music, song and stories that chronicle Tenja’s personal experiences with the tragic consequences of mental health issues.
The entire evening is under the direction of co-creator Monica Dufault, who says that despite the subject matter the evening is designed to raise as many spirits as it does dollars.
“It’s actually a very celebratory evening of stories,” said Dufault, a former artistic director with the 12-year-old Essential Collective Theatre group. “There is lots of humour, and then there is also some poignancy, because Tenja does talk about her family and their experiences with mental illness in the second half of the play.”
Hagenberg’s journey to the stage began after her losing her brother in June of 2017 to a mental illness he had kept hidden from his family. She approached Dufault in August last year, and the pair began laying the foundation of the production with the intent of turning it into an inspirational benefit performance.
“We do end up on a very uplifting note,” explains Dufault. “So it’s not a downer. It’s a very positive evening, a celebration of community and I would say a celebration of the power of art and of song and storytelling.”
In May and June this year, Dufault says the theatre company will be back on stage with another unique production aimed at seniors.
“This will be the fourth year for an Essential Collective Theatre project called Senior Stories,” she explained. “The production is geared toward senior citizens. Actors who are recent grads go and interview seniors to hear their life stories, then they go and create a play based on their stories. It then tours senior residences and homes thanks in part to a grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation.”
Around the World & Home Again is being staged for one night only Friday, April 20th aat the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre’s Cairns Recital Hall.
Tickets (Subject to Handling fee + HST):
Tickets can be booked online at www.firstontariopac.ca.
The Box Office can be reached by:
PHONE: 905-688-0722 (0PAC) EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org
IN PERSON: FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre, 250 St. Paul Street, St. Catharines