Dr. Michael Gomez has been exploring the ways creativity, language, and literature can be used as powerful tools in the treatment of trauma and other mental health challenges. According to Dr. Gomez, a therapist and educator at Bradley Hospital in Providence, “One thing we see with traumatized individuals is that trauma disconnects, and healing reconnects. One thing we see with creativity, it’s all about connection. It’s all about seeing connections that no one has ever seen before. And that’s what Shakespeare did.”

In an effort to test the connections between mental health, creativity, and great literature, On Stage/In Session: Shakespeare’s Works On Mental Health was born. Conceived and directed by Ed Wierzbicki, multiple Emmy winner with New Zenith Productions and long time contributor to Connecticut Public Broadcasting, this original television special offers viewers a fascinating take on today’s mental health through the lens of great literature.

The hour long program brings together a company of inspiring young actors who perform and discuss some of Shakespeare’s most trauma-challenged characters. In doing so, they also share their personal and creative process on how they brought to life these complex and struggling individuals. The program includes an insightful round table conversation that’s moderated by Dr. Gomez, as we get to know members of the company which include Kendra Garnett, Christopher J. Whitcomb, Kelsey Culup, Dustin Wong and Douglas Thomas Sobon.

The program also features compelling mini-film performances by the actors, including scenes from The Tempest, Twelfth Night, Henry IV, Part 1, and Henry VI, Part 3. Through their portrayals of Caliban, Hotspur, Lady Percy, Viola, Prospero, Miranda and Richard of Gloucester (Richard III), the actors tackle PTSD, traumatic grief, complex trauma, body based trauma, selfworth and identity. Teaming with Wierzbicki on the project is Paul Smith, Director of Photography and film editor Thomas Nelson. The program was filmed at several locations in the historic Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum in Wethersfield.

On Stage/In Session offers viewers an engaging “deep dive” into Shakespeare’s iconic characters, connecting their behaviors and thought process to today’s important mental health concerns. This fascinating program reveals the potential of literature and the arts to help us better understand and articulate some of today’s mental health battles, also proving that empathy is an essential “connecting” tool in the treatment and healing of today’s mental health demons.

Where to Watch

On Stage/In Session: Shakespeare’s Works on Mental Health premieres on CPTV on Sunday, October 16, 2022 at 7 p.m. It will re-air on CPTV on Monday, October 17, 2022 at 11 p.m.

It will also be available to watch on-demand on this page, on YouTube, and at video.cptv.org.