Erasing the Distance (ETD) will present the closing production of our 2012-2013 season: the World Premiere of THE SMALL, DARK ROOM, directed by Reshmi Hazra.
How much does-or should-our cultural backgrounds impact how we deal with mental health issues such as depression, disability, abuse and suicide? In this world premiere production, six Americans of Asian and Middle Eastern descent share true stories full of light, hope and transcendence that grapple with that very question.
Jeff (played by Gordon Chow): A Thai-Chinese man experiences a series of traumas and seeks insight and release through his Buddhist faith and bravely facing his past.
Maryam (played by Susaan Jamshidi): A Palestinian college student relies on family support, a scientific mind, and a love of music to climb her way out of depression.
Tarak (played by Adam Poss): A young Indian man loses his mother to suicide and now battles his own suicidal thoughts.
Warren (played by Kroydell Galima): A Filipino-American man, after years of struggling with social awkwardness and depression, recognizes the gifts inherent in the mental health challenges he faces.
Ha-Ti-Chi-Nook (played by Wannapa Pimtong-Eubanks): A Thai woman who lives with debilitating psoriasis, and resulting depression, finds salvation in the written word.
Manij (played by Rula Gardenier): an Iranian refugee overcomes a lifelong cycle of violence to work with a new generation of women facing similar challenges.
THE SMALL, DARK ROOM was created in collaboration with students from the University of Illinois at Chicago's (UIC) Asian American Studies Program. For the first time in UIC history, students majoring in such areas as Psychology, Disability Studies, and Nursing were able to take a course called Asian Americans, Community Engagement and Mental Health. Through the course, students had an opportunity to understand mental health issues up close. They interviewed people from their own ethnic communities who have dealt firsthand with issues such as depression, schizophrenia, domestic violence, and more. The students then turned these interviews into monologues. One of the overriding goals with THE SMALL, DARK ROOM is to break down the intense stigma and shame often found around these issues in the Asian and Middle Eastern communities.
During the run of THE SMALL, DARK ROOM, the theater lobby will feature an exhibit of works by artists Chun-Shan (Sandie) Yi and Ghaith S. Jarew that are inspired by the show. All pieces are for sale, and a percentage of the proceeds will directly support Erasing the Distance programming. The art exhibit is curated by ETD Artistic Associate Meredith Siemsen.
Each performance of THE SMALL, DARK ROOM will be followed by a moderated talkback. Mental health resources and crisis volunteers are also present at every performance for the audience to utilize as needed.
THE SMALL, DARK ROOM is made possible by the UIC Asian American Studies Program and the UIC AANAPISI Initiative, which is fully funded by the U.S. Department of Education's Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander Serving-Institutions Program. This show is also partially supported by the Kiran Bavikatte Foundation, the Asian American Suicide Prevention Initiative (AASPI), The MacArthur Fund for Arts and Culture at The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, and the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.
THE SMALL, DARK ROOM
April 8, 9, 15 & 16 at 7:30pm
Hoover-Leppen Theatre ~ Center on Halsted ~ 3656 N. Halsted, 3rd Floor ~ Chicago, IL
Directed by: Reshmi Hazra
Adapted by: Norman Chen, Jialin (Camille) Li, Ana Sofia Lupu, Brighid O'Shaughnessy, Kruti Parikh, Gessa Suboc, & Chun-Shan (Sandie) Yi
Performed by: Gordon Chow, Wannapa Pimtong-Eubanks*, Kroydell Galima, Rula Gardenier, Susaan Jamshidi, Adam Poss*, & Scott Shimizu (u/s)
Stage Manager: Deanna Fiorentino*
Production Manager: Jennifer Shine*
Lighting Designer: Mac Vaughey
Sound Designer: Matt Kiendrowski
Art Curator: Meredith Siemsen*
Featured Artists: Chun-Shan (Sandie) Yi and Ghaith S. Jarew
Casting Associate: Stephanie Diaz*
*ETD Ensemble Member or Artistic Associate.