Raising the issue of schizophrenia in youth for better understanding is the aim of a one-woman show called “Who’s Talking Now,” on April 14 and 15, at the Old Church in Smithers.
Valerie Laub will be performing her interpretation of the true stories of three families from northern B.C. and their experiences with their children with schizophrenia. She bases the play on interviews with the parents and siblings of three children, now young adults, affected by the illness.
“The idea for the play was really, for the families,” said Laub. “What it is like to have a child with schizophrenia or mental illness, and how do you cope with that? It was not so much about the mental illness itself, but that of course comes into it.”
“I play the three parents, then the three kids who show up and speak as themselves, but the characters are created by me in an effort not to identify specific families.”
In between character changes, the audience will hear recorded voices of what Laub thinks a schizophrenic voice inside the mind may say and sound like. These voices run throughout the play and, according to Laub, is quite typical of what happens.
“What I look for in this play is increased awareness, understanding, compassion, and support, for the people whose stories I’m telling, and not just them, but of other people who have a similar story. So the families I’m talking about, hopefully, would feel some sort of support by seeing the play right now. They’re not alone. There’s other people going through this.”
According to information on the Mayo Clinic website, “childhood schizophrenia is an uncommon but severe mental disorder in which children and teenagers interpret reality abnormally. Schizophrenia involves a range of problems with thinking (cognitive), behavior or emotions. It may result in some combination of hallucinations, delusions, and extremely disordered thinking and behavior that impairs the child’s ability to function.”
Laub consulted with the Schizophrenia Society in Smithers for accuracy, and is sponsored by the Mental Health and Addictions Advisory Committee of Smithers.
The play is free to the public and begins at 7 p.m. both nights.