What is mental illness? What is community? What is a “good neighbor” or an “upstanding citizen?” These are some of the philosophical questions discussed in therapy groups led by Andres Marquez-Lara, at Saint Elizabeths Hospital in Washington, D.C. Andres is a therapist, social entrepreneur and performance advocate who has been training in the social therapeutic approach to emotional development and is bringing philosophical/creative conversation and performance to Saint Elizabeths, an inpatient psychiatric facility which houses individuals with serious and persistent mental illness.
In every therapy session, I challenge the group to perform beyond “mentally ill consumers.”
Saint Elizabeths recently partnered with Wandering Souls, a non-profit performance arts group, to create a playwriting workshop. Patients collectively wrote, “Reflection: Plays from Saint Elizabeths Hospital,” then cast the actors who would bring the play to life at the “Page to Stage Festival” at the Kennedy Center. The play was also performed at the hospital and at several venues in D.C.
Andres is the founder of Promethean Community, a consulting company whose mission is to strengthen communities through performance. His team plans on launching several pilot projects in local schools this spring. Andres welcomes inquiries and correspondence at: firstname.lastname@example.org.