Images by Madeline G. McQuillan
In a smartphone existence, I have found that one of the most undervalued parts of the human experience is the ability to connect with another person. Some spend their entire lives trying to express who they are and what they feel to the world around them. But more often than not, we are consumed in some capacity by the chaos of our own lives. As a species, we have become self-consumed, and I get it.
Beginning in the early days of my Catholic school elementary education all the way through my liberating liberal arts college experience, I have always had two creative outlets to devout my wits to. Portraying powerful sonnets, delivering dazzling speeches and personifying the very soul of another artist on a stage. Through storytelling and creative collaboration, devising and directing I have found not only a passion but a coping mechanism. I remember the inspirational performance I gave as a seagull in Treasure Island with the traveling children’s theatre that came to my hometown every January–it was then that my kindergarten self-knew performance art was going to be “my thing.”
Thankfully, my ardor to the theatric arts is accompanied by a compatible creative love of writing. My six-year-old imagination found great solace in scribbling my dreams and thoughts into the neon pages of a Mickey Mouse notebook with an aqua blue crayon. Lyrics, short scenes, and stories filled my middle school trapper keepers. You remember the ones, the fluorescent organizer that all of your friends would erratically signature and doodle on. All the way up into my high school years on the varsity speech and mock trial teams.
Regardless of my ability to spill my guts onto a page or someone else’s in a performance, years of my life were spent bottling emotions and suppressing feelings. Thankfully in my teens, I was introduced to therapy, a treatment and luxury I know not all are privileged enough to have. I learned how to communicate in a healthy way after weeks and months of chiseling down the walls I had built up around myself. Everyone has a story.
That is why when I found Erasing The Distance, mostly by accident, I knew this was a story I wanted to share in Echo Magazine. Never before have I found such an intricate ensemble that produces art that is raw and devote to the truth of another. In hearing the stories of fellow actors who open their hearts and ears to someone, who hear another human’s deepest and most personal candor, I had never felt quite so blissful and proud to be apart of the artistic community. For me, I sometimes find it terribly difficult to find positive subject matter to focus on in the world where so much is so wrong. My amazement has yet to cease upon analysis of different facets of modern media. Victim shaming, false reporting, agenda news outlets and sanctions, misleading or inaccurate facts, the list gets longer with corrupt and crooked journalism. Erasing The Distance is shaking up the way that mental health is discussed, and it has become my firmest belief, that this type of approach to healing through art and expression could be so beneficial and deserves to be spotlighted. With an estimated one in six Americans suffering from mental illness, it is pertinent to open discussion, and accurate, empathetic storytelling. I think there is a great deal to be learned from Erasing The Distance. I strive to pursue my passion in the two arts and hope that one day, I to can write, create or perform such important stories.