WP Puppet Theatre’s first View from the Inside programs, in 2015, were done at Pathways to Housing, Circle of Support and Studio C. The participants, who were often marginalized, racialized and struggling, took an immense risk to work outside their comfort zones.
- They created self-portrait mask-body puppets to tell their stories. They were vulnerable as they shared their art work on the inside of the mask which represented the private and personal.
- They were honest as they represented, on the outside of the mask, their public faces or their faces they believed other people saw.
- And they were thoughtful as they added their connections to past, future and community.
We asked everyone to write three words about their experience as a simple survey technique. The words most often submitted were “Courage” and “Journey”.
From then on, we adopted the phrase to epitomize our work with mental health connections. Which, as we reflect, is just about everything we do at WP Puppet Theatre, as we strive to use “the power of puppetry to impact positive social change”.
A puppet’s ‘power’ is wide and deep. Anecdotes from our programs continually reinforce the efficacy of puppetry to support positive mental health. A child mastering a math concept builds self-esteem. An adult makes a friend; establishes a supportive relationship. A youth tells a story of resiliency. A senior’s experience is honoured; he/she/they feel involved. Through a puppet, participants recognize emotions, problem solve, build community, find expression, create beautiful and meaningful art.*
Consequently, as we develop our online workshops and performances, we will include links, resources, suggestions, assessments and more, that advocate and support mental health awareness, as we all walk our Courage Journey.
*Canadian Association of Mental Health says “Mental health is about realizing our potential, coping with the normal stresses of life, and making a contribution to our community” (https://cmha.ca/documents/mental-health-for-life Sep 2020)