Arcadians play raises awareness of mental disorders

Pontus Aleryd, Kyle Nozza, Johnny Acosta, Stephanie Rodrigues (seated), Temujin Tera and Bridget Keating. Picture: ANDY ZAKELI

Pontus Aleryd, Kyle Nozza, Johnny Acosta, Stephanie Rodrigues (seated), Temujin Tera and Bridget Keating. Picture: ANDY ZAKELI

The Arcadians theatre group is used to pre-show nerves and anxiety, but it is nothing compared to issues faced daily by people with mental illness.

The Corrimal drama society is preparing its run of Next To Normal, a production on the effects of mental health issues on a family unit, with part of the proceeds to benefit Headspace Illawarra.

"Next To Normal deals with a mother struggling with bipolar disorder, and the effects it has on her family," Arcadians president Liza Allen said.

"It is about accepting issues and not being afraid to ask for help."

The Arcadians production is an Illawarra premiere for the Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning rock opera, and the group will donate 5 per cent of profits to Headspace.

"When Arcadians contacted us about the play, the impact mental health has on families, it was a good marriage," said Cara Jones, community engagement officer and psychologist at Headspace.

"The impact on families is something we see all the time, and we wanted to work together to reduce stigma around mental health."

Ms Allen said many Arcadians members were in Headspace's 12- to 25-year age group, and the group was keen to support the cause.

"We wanted to make the show meaningful, to use the arts to break down stigma," she said.

"Our members have used Headspace, so it was a nice synergy to raise awareness around services to help mental illness."

Next To Normal opens on June 13. See arcadians.org.au for more information.

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