Powerful Stories Told in the Spotlight

NYC Producer Lorne Jaffe describes the difficult job of casting the show

I knew tough moments awaited me when I took on the role of producer of This Is My Brave NYC. I have to say that both listening to so many incredible people with mental illness pour out their hearts and having to choose who makes the cut and who doesn't was beyond a doubt the hardest part of this process.

Every person who auditioned did so because they wanted to both help eradicate the stigmas surrounding mental illness and to prove to themselves just how strong they are. To hold this power of selection was both inspirational and terrifying, and I'm so thankful to my team of Rachel and Eric Godfrey and Peggy Samedi for being there to witness and to help select 12 performers out of such overall magnificence because I never could have done it alone. By day 2 of auditions I broke down because of the pressure. My team helped lift me back up.

Following the final audition, Rachel, Eric, Peggy and I debated for near 4 hours over who to cast. Our goal was to represent to show that "mental illness" comes in a myriad of guises. We wanted both men and women. We wanted the perspectives of people WITH mental illnesses and people WITHOUT mental illnesses but who have friends and family fighting disorders of the brain. We wanted a mix of poetry, essay, monologue and original music. And above all we wanted people with powerful stories.

Regular folks (some who've spent their lives hiding) will take to the podium and shout to the rooftops that those with mental illnesses need not fear coming out of the shadows; that we need to have serious conversations in this country about mental disorders; and that all of us with mental conditions are passionate, strong and brave.

And I'm proud to say that's exactly what you'll see on October 4th at Hunter College's Kaye Playhouse.

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