Founded in 2005 and seen by over 40,000 people, Erasing the Distance (ETD) is a non-profit arts organization based in Chicago, IL that uses the power of performance to disarm stigma, spark dialogue, educate, and promote healing surrounding issues of mental health.
ETD collects true stories from people whose lives have been impacted by mental health issues. The storyteller’s words are sculpted into theatrical monologues and scenes. Our ensemble of professional actors then brings the stories to life for live audiences across the state and country.
Every ETD performance is followed by a moderated, interactive dialogue so that audience members can process and discuss the themes in the stories they have just seen. ETD also provides mental health literature from nationally recognized organizations free of charge so that audience members can access help if they need it.
ETD has a vast repertoire of stories that explore various mental health issues and feature people of many different ages, cultural backgrounds, racial groups, and perspectives. A few of our stories are also available in Spanish. We perform these stories at schools, faith groups, conferences, community organizations, and workplaces across the state and country.
At least once a year, Erasing the Distance stages shows at local theater venues for the general public. Our productions—often world premieres—are presented in partnership with mental health professionals that offer actor training and on-site audience support and information. Every performance is followed by a moderated, interactive dialogue between the cast and audience that addresses some of the themes just seen.
ETD offers a limited number of annual residencies to area middle schools, high schools, and colleges. Typically lasting 3-5 months, an outreach residency includes in-depth mental health discussions, speakers who share their personal experiences, and creative activities designed to stimulate storytelling and team
ETD’s approach to gathering, transcribing, and staging true stories is unique, and we often have people interested in learning how we do what we do. ETD leads presentations, workshops, trainings, and longer-term programs to teach artists, mental health advocates, and current/future health professionals our specific
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