The Support Network of Madison holds Two Mental Health Performances

(above)  Professional Actors, Nancy Kutzer and Eli Ganias, perform a play written by a community member at The Support Network of Madison Mental Health Awareness Show on May 9 at the Madison Community Arts Center.
Courtesy photo

The Support Network of Madison Does it Again!

Together with producer, Jenny Stone, of Stoneboies Entertainment, and this time with Director Leoni Van Veen, The Support Network of Madison put the spotlight on connection, emotion, and relevance at the Madison Community Art Center with 2 mental health shows on May 9th for adults, and May 19th for teens.

The Support Network of Madison elicited anonymous submissions about mental health from the Madison area community and received poetry, comedy skits, short films, music and even a full play. These were then cultivated into an evening of 14 acts, which shared themes relating to mental health, including insecurity, divorce, fears, growing up, finding yourself and living authentically. According to Director Leoni Van Veen, “Sharing the Struggle was magical because when real stories are brought to life by performers, the audience is able to process and the tellers have a little bit of distance.” 

“This show was everything we could have hoped for! It was authentic, relatable, and provided a gentle mechanism for talking about a difficult and often stigmatized topic, mental health. Most importantly, we celebrated our similarities, and made both the audience and submitters feel connected, appreciated and loved. Audience members said they walked away feeling heard and encouraged, even lighter! We are so grateful to Producer Jenny Stone, Director Leoni Van Veen, our host Katie Zurich and our very talented performers for daring to break the stigma surrounding mental health and allow our community to participate in the content and development. It was an exceptionally unique and healing experience that we intend to make a regular part of our programming,” said Executive Director Jen Walters.

The range of talent and use of multiple art forms made the May 9 show one of a kind.  Keith Gatti,  a community member and contributor, stated “The show was an incredible thing to see. Each performance was unique and incredibly bold. It always feels great to know that you’re not alone in this world when you struggle with different demons. The talent was exceptional, they took a writing of mine and made it come alive even better than I envisioned when I wrote it.” Keith’s play about OCD was brought to life by professional actors, Eli Ganias as “Steve” Nancy Kutler as “the Germ” and a Support Network Board Member Jenn Daley as “Reality”. Local college student and esteemed dancer Bridget Ryan enamored guests with interpretive dance and local teen performers Emily Ruzicka and Kyra Longenecker belted out songs about loss and finding oneself. Board Members Courtney Supple and Claire Sumner recited poems of those who wished to remain anonymous. While much of the content was deep, there were also lots of laughs including Michael Latshaw and Nancy Kutler depicting a first date after divorce and a stand-up routine by a local father AJ Ellis. The night was also brought into full color with film shorts curated by Throughline Artists, J. J. Kandel.

The May 19th Teen show was different, with content specifically tailored to teens and their unique internal world. A few acts repeated, but the focus highlighted relevant issues for today’s youth. There were interviews with school personnel and acts that highlighted self expression, fitting in, and thriving through the stresses of daily life.

To top it off, proceeds for the show, will help fund co-sponsorships by the Support Network of Madison and the Madison Community Pool for families in need of financial support to enroll in community pool membership, a critical resource for community connectedness during the long summer months.

This is just one way that the Support Network of Madison seeks to support the community in making social connection accessible, both socially and financially. The Support Network also provides low cost social events all year long for multiple ages groups and interests, and free activities at the Madison Farm and Artisan Market in accordance with their mission to provide social opportunities for friendship and connection which have been proven to improve mental health. “It is important that people not only have the opportunity to make friends and connections, but that they can afford these resources regularly and inclusively. Our goal is to reduce the isolation that contributes to mental health struggles,” said board member Jenn Daley.

More information about the Support Network of Madison can be found at

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