A Light in Dark Places started in the Spring of 2016 with an idea to use theater as a means to reach out to those whose lives have been affected by suicide. We wanted to create a community that breaks isolation, one where there is no stigma about suicide or mental illness and where reaching out for help feels safe and even necessary.
There were many steps and discoveries along the way, but what we ultimately put together was a play festival made up of five original short plays that worked together to bring about awareness, understanding, and hope. We partnered with the Stella Adler Academy of Acting and Theatre - Los Angeles for the venue, actors and directors and Playground-LA for the playwrights.
The production ran for one weekend in the beginning of September. Each performance was followed by a Q&A and reception where we could connect and process the show together. It was a beautiful and humbling experience, and one that we were able to keep open to all. In order to do this, we decided that tickets were to be donation based with all proceeds donated to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, who gave us guidance and support along the way.
A Light in Dark Places was our contribution to National Suicide Prevention Week, and we were successful. We had talented people donating themselves to bring this project to life, and we had a supportive audience that grew each night. We were successful because we had people coming together to support this message of hope and prevention. Our 2016 Production was our first attempt and will serve as the foundation for all of our future productions in the years to come.
We want to be connecting with people, providing information on resources, and opening the lines of communication within our communities. As long as it's what's best for the production, we want to continue expanding and reaching new audiences each year.
We will continue bringing in new talent, giving people the opportunity to get involved through acting, directing, producing, writing, and more. Most importantly, we will continue finding ways to produce quality theater that speaks to all of us whether we have been personally affected by suicide or not.
Suicide broke my heart. I imagine that it's broken a lot of hearts. The ripple that it has is huge. That outpour of people in the beginning was overwhelming, but that wasn't the end. I remember getting phone calls from people months after my dad died as the news slowly traveled. People who he had met only a handful of times were moved enough by his choice to call me and share a memory or give a condolence. It always left me with a warm sadness. You were so loved. You touched so many lives. Why did you do it? Why did you have to go?
It's better not knowing. For me anyway. I don't want to imagine the helplessness, the hopelessness, the pain....but he was such a happy person. I heard that from a lot from people. They still say it, but underneath he wasn't. We are conditioned to hide our pain, to present our best, happiest selves to the world. That's bullshit. It's okay to not be okay. It's okay to not have everything together. There's no shame in needing help.
I want people to know that. I want you to know that you are loved and that your life matters. That help is attainable. Together we can break though the stigma of depression and mental health. We can learn to reach out to each other. Please reach out. There is always hope. Hope is a light, and light will always shine through the dark.
- Kelly O'Malley