To humanize the mechanized: maladjusted
Wait time. Misunderstanding. Referrals. Cutbacks. Little emotion. Rigid rules. Burnout. These are some of the terms used by the audience members at Friday’s production of “maladjusted” to describe Canada’s current mental health care system. For those of you who missed it, February 27th and 28th were the Edmonton dates for the BC/Alberta tour of Theatre For Living’s “maladjusted”- an interactive theatre production designed to facilitate dialogue around our “mechanized” mental health care system.
The actual play itself is only thirty minutes long, but follows several story lines that intertwine as the plot unfolds. Within that short time, it becomes obvious that each character is frustrated with how the mental health system is functioning , yet for whatever reason are unable to change or “fix” their situation within it. Once the play is finished, audience members are invited to participate. The play starts again, but this time each scene is isolated. If someone in the audience feels that they can understand what the character is experiencing in that scene, and would like to try things differently, they can yell “STOP”and assume the role of the character they’d like to replace.
Not surprisingly, the audience members responded to the call with meaningful suggestions and solutions. Not every situation was completely resolved in each scene, but what became apparent is this: People are aware of the issues with the current system, and have plenty of ideas about how these problems can be avoided, but recognize that caregivers are often restricted by outdated policies and practices.
What can we do about it? The hope is that changes can be made through dialogue promoted by grass roots movements such as “maladjusted”. The good news is that all of the ideas, responses, suggestions and solutions from each show are recorded by scribes, and will be forwarded to policy makers. With any hope, the voices will be heard, and the system will change for the better.
There are still more stops on the “maladjusted” tour! For more information, visit their website.