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Artists To Perform Deeply Personal Pieces On Mental Health Struggles At The Broad Stage On Sunday

Two people stand in front of a small audience of people sitting in chairs. A man in a blue shirt has his hands raised over his head. The picture is of a rehearsal for the L.A. performance of "This Is My Brave," a series of shows centered around mental health stories.
Co-producers John Tsilimparis and Karen Pickett talk to the cast during a rehearsal for "This Is My Brave — The Show in Los Angeles"
(Courtesy of "This Is My Brave — Los Angeles")
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Comedy monologues about panic attacks, songs about isolation during the pandemic and real stories about the mental health struggles associated with hiding your sexuality: they’re all part of a performance series called “This Is My Brave,” which comes to The Broad Stage in Santa Monica on Sunday.

Cast members between the ages of 15 and 45 — some of whom have never performed on stage before — rehearsed for months to bring the multidisciplinary show to life.

That includes Joe Cockrell, who will tell a deeply personal story that involves a time he attempted to take his own life. He says his struggle with mental health is something even some of his friends who will be in the audience don’t know about him.

“No one is immune from [mental health struggles]," Cockrell told LAist. "It doesn’t matter what race, ethnicity, sexuality you are. We’re all susceptible to it. And I think that the variety of people in this show and the stories they’re sharing reiterates that.”

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Organizers hope the show will help to de-stigmatize mental health, and maybe speak to audience members who are going through something similar.

Actor and mental health advocate Reba Buhr will also perform on Sunday. She runs the Instagram account “Get Thee To A Therapist,” which connects people with resources and offers no-nonsense advice on things like how to find help even if you think you can’t afford it.

“The thing that sticks out to me the most is how many people I talk with that are really frustrated with how the insurance system — or their lack of access to health insurance — is keeping them from getting the care they need,” Buhr said.

Buhr will perform a comedic monologue on Sunday that pulls from her own history with panic attacks.

Joe Cockrell rehearses for "This is My Brave - The Show in Los Angeles." He stands in front of a podium and holds a mic. He's wearing a white shirt that says 'Green Day' on it.
Joe Cockrell at a rehearsal for "This is My Brave - The Show in Los Angeles"
(Photo courtesy of This Is My Brave - Los Angeles)

“I use my skills as a voice actor to play all the characters that I deal with when I’m going through a panic attack, in silly voices [because] I wanted it to be funny,” she said.

The show includes cast members who struggle with long-term drug use, bipolar and major depressive disorder, and other conditions.

Organizers say 100% of the proceeds from ticket sales will be distributed to local nonprofit organizations that provide mental health services.

L.A.-based psychotherapist and show producer John Tsilimparis said this is the 82nd performance for “This Is My Brave,” which has also expanded to Australia. He added that audiences are usually extremely receptive and compassionate, making for a truly “communal space.”

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“We believe that storytelling saves lives,” Tsilimparis said.

“This Is My Brave — The Los Angeles Show” is this Sunday, Sept. 25, at The Broad Stage in Santa Monica from 2 to 4 p.m. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased here.

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