“We are holistic beings, and a broken mind leads to a broken body which leads to a broken spirit. And the cycle continues.” Shalini Bhalla-Lucas
Through the power of storytelling, executive producers Shalini Bhalla-Lucas and Amar Vidyarthi have been vocal about mental well-being by sharing true stories of struggle and pain as well as joy and triumph, whilst also raising awareness and disrupting stigma through theatre hence bringing The Manic Monologues to Kenya.
Having a history with Mental Illness herself, Shalini Bhalla-Lucas shares how art saved her life,
“One of the many ways to bring mental well-being to people is through the arts. Dance, music, theatre and art can be healing, transformative and lifesaving. I know this first hand because dance quite literally saved my life.”
Directed by Mugambi Nthiga (Lusala) and featuring a stellar cast consisting of; Nyokabi Macharia (County 49),Wakio Mzenge (My Two Wives), Nick Ndeda (18 hours), Elsaphan Njora (Kati Kati), Charles J Ouda (Mali), Vikash Pattni (Crime and Justice), Auudi Rowa (Salem), and Julissa Rowe (Night, Mother), the show was for one,an emotional journey.
Staged at the Signature Auditorium, Westlands from the 5th to the 8th of October, the show not only unpacked real life mental illness experiences of Depression,Stress, Anxiety, Panic attacks, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Suicidal ideation but also Psychosis, Schizophrenia, Bipolar disorder and Obsessive compulsive disorder which don’t have much recognition in Kenya.
Stellar performances were delivered from the cast who lived up to the emotive real life scenarios.
Due to the deeply emotional nature of the monologues,free therapy spearheaded by Olive Ndiang’ui (therapist) was offered by the production for any of the audience members who may have felt triggered.
One particular performance by Charles J Ouda left me fascinated,
a monologue entitled African in New York,a story of a young man who was studying at the United States and although considered lucky by his fellow Africans back home,he went through tremendous challenges from being violently assaulted to sleeping in the subway, but he didn’t share any of these experiences since his friends and family were miles away.
The mood changes throughout the show were creativity portrayed from the technical crew behind the lighting and costumes; Henry Wamai (Technical Director),Bryan Emry (Costume Designer).
Produced by Karishma Bhagani (Goddess: The Musical) and Essie Noella (Line Producer), The Manic Monologues for sure broadened my level of empathy towards mental health. I am looking forward to more initiatives of this nature being put to consideration in future productions and also hoping for a second edition.
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