One-woman play travels into ‘emotional abyss’

Seeing friends fall to depression, Tina Milo decided to use her artistic tools to talk about it.  -
Seeing friends fall to depression, Tina Milo decided to use her artistic tools to talk about it.
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Rebecca Marino was a rising star in professional tennis.

But last year, at age 22, she stepped away from the game. Marino revealed she was suffering from a depression made worse by cruel comments on social media.

Another high-profile Canadian sports figure, Olympian Clara Hughes, has also battled depression, and continues to make her story public in Clara’s Big Ride for mental health.

Now artist Tina Milo is putting depression on a theatre stage as writer and sole performer of The Village, which comes to the Performance Hall May 24.

“I was surrounded by friends suffering from depression. They were afraid to share their experiences—scared of stigma, people not taking their illness seriously. When a Canadian tennis player came out…along with the Olympic champion Clara Hughes…I knew I had to use my artistic tools to talk out loud about it,” said Milo.

In The Village, an actress auditions for the role of a depressed woman in a fictional film. Various stages of depression are depicted with the help of images and stories of real people.

“She explores why women give up on who they really are, their dreams and hopes, slipping into intense emotional abysses. She could be any woman in the audience. She is honest, yet self-conscious,” said Milo.

The actor is aiming to raise awareness of depression, open debate and promote artistic expression as a way to rise above mental illness. Her one-woman show incorporates acting, physical theatre, video and original live music, which she composed and performs.

Milo might be recognized by some in Richmond for her supporting role in Ambrosia, a 2012 film that stars local beauty queen Sahar Biniaz and the city’s arts co-ordinator Camyar Chai.

Much of Milo’s stage experience was earned miles away—in Belgrade, Serbia. Theatre companies there, most government supported, are known for a detailed creative process, which Milo adopted.

“They start their process with the topic, detailed research. They improvise vocally and physically and they write about it. They bring in individuals who give lectures and help understand the subject. They read, use books as their resource. The script is being devised along the way and this is exactly how The Village is being worked on.”

The play has been in the works for two years, rounding into form in February when Milo spent a month developing it in a Belgrade theatre studio with director Dijana Miloševic.

Now its themes of depression and getting back to who we really are about to resonate in Richmond.

The Village

•Written by Tina Milo

•8 p.m. Saturday, May 24 at the Performance Hall inside Richmond Cultural Centre

•Dijana Miloševic directs, set and video design by Neša Paripović

•Tickets, $10, at 604-247-8300 or at cultural centre (7700 Minoru Gate)

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