Dark comedy ignites conversation about mental health on World Suicide Prevention Day

To mark 2016 World Suicide Prevention Day  on Sept.10, the Arthur Sommer Rotenberg Suicide and Depression Studies Program of St. Michael’s Hospital is sponsoring The Ties That Bind, a semi-autographical solo show exploring living with mental illness. The production was written and performed by James Ince.

“Events like this are important for the community because they  showcase the amazing things people living with mental illness are doing and give individuals a platform to share their voice,” said
Dr. Sakina Rizvi, a researcher with the ASR Suicide and Depression  Studies Program. “We want people to discuss the function, not the dysfunction, of mental health.”

Nearly two-thirds of people living with a mental disorder worldwide never seek professional help for fear of being stigmatized, neglected or discriminated against, according to the World Health

Plagued by peers, bosses, and parents who cannot understand how he is feeling – but condemn him for it – the show’s protagonist, Sam Ward finds himself alone and broken. With humour and humanity to guide him, Sam tells a true story of surviving mental illness, rather than the stigma of suffering from it.

“My goal was to create a performance that inspires all of us to learn and relearn how to have compassion,” said Ince, the writer  and performer of The Ties That Bind. “With compassion, we can help  create a more sympathetic world, in which every single one of us feels supported, cared for, and understood,” said Ince.

Proceeds from the show will go to St. Michael’s ASR Suicide and  Depression Studies Program, which is focused on identifying who is at risk for suicide and building a strong clinical program for
suicide intervention. The program’s researchers, clinicians and graduate students also work with the community to develop impactful research projects and advocacy initiatives that represent those who have been affected by suicide or depression.

“We supported this production on World Suicide Prevention Day  because we want to change the conversation around mental illness in the community,” said Dr. Rizvi. “The Ties That Bind reflects on societal perception of mental illness, while Ince’s candid writing  and performance demonstrate the tremendous contributions someone with lived experience brings to our society.”

This performance of The Ties That Bind will be held at the Theatre  Passe Muraille, 16 Ryerson Ave., on Saturday, Sept. 10, at 7 p.m. A  question-and-answer session with Ince and director Istvan Dugalin will take place after the show, as will a moment of silence for those who have been lost to suicide.

About St. Michael’s Hospital

St. Michael’s Hospital provides compassionate care to all who enter its doors. The hospital also provides outstanding medical education to future health care professionals in 27 academic disciplines.
Critical care and trauma, heart disease, neurosurgery, diabetes, cancer care, care of the homeless and global health are among the hospital’s recognized areas of expertise. Through the Keenan
Research Centre and the Li Ka Shing International Healthcare Education Centre, which make up the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, research and education at St. Michael’s Hospital are recognized and make an impact around the world. Founded in 1892, the hospital is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto.

THE TIES THAT BIND is creator-performer James Ince’s semi- autobiographical solo show about the facts and fictions society tells itself regarding mental illness. Eight years of love,  humiliation, growth and painful existence have gone into the creation of this brutally dark comedy about living life as less- than-“normal.”

Jame Ince (The Winged Man, SummerWorks; The Penis Project, Buddies  in Bad Times) plays Sam Ward – as well as everyone else – directed by Istvan Dugalin (playwright: The Atomic Tradition, Sterling Theatre Company; film director: The Modern Things). Lighting design by Christopher Ross (red light district Theatre Company; Monkeyman Productions). Sound Design by Dora-nominated Paul Humphrey (Glenn, True West, Soulpepper; Theatre Rusticle; solo CD: “A Rumour of Angels”). Stage Managed by Alice Ferreyra (Antigone, Soupcan Theatre; The Story, Theatre Columbus; The Test, Canadian Stage). More information about Our Souls and this production: http:// oursouls.wixsite.com/oursouls