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Photo by Sean Carter Photography. A scene from Harvey.

(Chelsea Update would like to thank Katie Hubbard for the information in this story.)

A panel of mental health experts will join Director Guy Sanville and members of the cast of The Purple Rose Theatre Company’s “Harvey” following the 2 p.m. performance on July 16 for a special post-production talk back.

Audience members are invited to participate in this free, enhanced talk back, which will begin around 4:30 p.m.

“Harvey,” a Pulitzer prize-winning American classic by Mary Chase, is the story of Elwood P. Dowd, who insists on including his friend Harvey in all of his sister Veta’s social gatherings. Trouble is, Harvey is an imaginary 6-and-a-half-foot-tall rabbit. To avoid future embarrassment for her family—and especially for her daughter, Myrtle Mae—Veta decides to have Elwood committed to a sanitarium. When they arrive at the sanitarium, a comedy of errors ensues.

“The play is about the power of imagination to forge alternative ways of seeing in a world that has grown small and mean,” says Director Guy Sanville. “It is in this context that Elwood shows us that some people are blind.”

The discussion, moderated by health reporter Lila Lazarus, will feature a host of mental health experts from St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea, including:

  • Etienne Dehoorne, MD, Medical Director, Behavioral Health Services
  • Laura Reese, MD, Psychiatrist, Inpatient Behavioral Health
  • Lissa Perrin, LMSW, Therapist, Outpatient Behavioral Health
  • Michele Johnson, RN, Inpatient Behavioral Health

Dehoorne is board certified in General Psychiatry and currently serves as the Medical Director for Psychiatry Services at St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea. Reese is board certified in General and Forensic Psychiatry. Perrin holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Michigan with a concentration in clinical social work. Johnson is a registered nurse with over two decades experience in psychiatric nursing.

St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea Director of Behavioral Health Nancy Siegrist says the goal of the talk back is to engage the community on the importance of mental health.

“There tends to be a stigma surrounding mental health – we want to make sure people understand the misconceptions and feel comfortable talking about it. During the panel discussion, we will be comparing the way people viewed mental health in the ‘40s, as portrayed by ‘Harvey,’ to today. We will also talk about the different treatments depicted in the play, including inpatient mental health care, how alcoholism was viewed, and what approaches remain the same and what is different today.”

While these are starting points for discussion, audience members will be able to ask questions of the panel. “We really want it to be interactive,” says Siegrist. “People can stay after the performance or come just for the talk.”

St. Joe’s Chelsea has a robust inpatient unit and two outpatient behavioral health clinics for individuals of all ages. The staff is committed to helping educate the community on the importance of mental health and asking for help when needed. “With our dedication to behavioral health,” says Dehoorne, “partnering with the Purple Rose for ‘Harvey,’ will be a unique way for us to educate the community in an interesting, interactive and engaging way.”

This event is made possible by the support of Chelsea State Bank, Legacy Assisted Living, St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea, and Daniel J. and Patricia Stankey.

Ticket Information

Tickets for the July 16 performance and panel discussion are a special price of $41.

“Harvey” performances run through Saturday, Aug. 26. Ticket prices range from $20.50 to $46 with special discounts for students, seniors, teachers, members of the military and groups. For more information or to make reservations call (734) 433-7673 or go to www.purplerosetheatre.org.

All performances will be held at The Purple Rose Theatre Company, 137 Park St.

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