Mixed Company Theatre is collaborating with our Associate Artist, playwright Catherine Frid, to research, develop and eventually tour an original and new stage play about the complex and neglected subject of seniors and suicide. This project aims to open conversations on these topics and help people find new ways to support one another and communicate about these often-taboo subjects.
We began this project by engaging in conversations and workshops with older adults whose lives have been impacted by depression, suicide, or Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID). From these explorations, Catherine Frid has been writing a script that encapsulates a “universal story” of these topics.
The piece Catherine is developing is a Forum Theatre play – an interactive, participatory form of theatre where audience members have the opportunity to step up on stage to enact ways to address the issue presented.
This final play, which will be performed by professional actors, is intended to catalyze dialogue, discussion, and action to support seniors and their mental health. We are aiming to tour the play to senior service organizations in the Fall of 2022.
Seniors 65 years and older have one of the highest rates of suicide in Canada, particularly men. It’s not as publicized as youth suicides, but is just as important. It’s also true that older men are much more likely to die through a suicide attempt than any other group, in part because they have access to more lethal means (prescription medication). Seniors, especially those in residential care, suffer high rates of depression (44%) and loneliness. (Please see links below for the sources of these statistics.)
Catherine first began exploring this subject when she wrote a play about hope and resilience, AfterWhys, for the Suicide Awareness Council of Wellington-Dufferin. AfterWhys focused on rural stigma and community support, and has been well received.
Some additional avenues Catherine is exploring in Hope and Resilience in Action with MCT are the distinctions between MAID and senior suicide, as well as the challenges created by Canada’s diversity, urban loneliness and isolation, lack of family support, and now pandemic anxiety, which strains mental health.
“Seniors & Suicide – Starting the Conversation with the AfterWhys Play”
The theatre creation approach outlined in the below video, “Seniors & Suicide – Starting the Conversation with the AfterWhys Play,” was pioneered by the Suicide Awareness Council of Wellington-Dufferin and Catherine Frid. The development process Catherine devised for AfterWhys recognized the taboo nature of suicide for some people, ensured all participants were respected and their stories remained confidential. Catherine is using a similar approach for “Hope and Resilience in Action.”
On April 19th our MCT team and Catherine Frid did a Facebook Live Q&A to talk about the project – click the link below to watch the video!
Facebook Live Event: https://www.facebook.com/MixedCTheatre/videos/1296200387444413
If you’re interested in bringing the final play to your organization or attending one of the performances when we eventually tour, write to us and we can put you on the mailing list for the project!