“Play seems to be deeply anchored in people
and can extend to all regions of human existence.”

(Andreas Flitner)



addressing mental health
via the theater

The theater and the arts in general have always been used to depict and to describe the incomprehensible and the unattainable. Mental states and issues that are hard to grasp in conventional formats, become more tangible through the theater.


Or take children: they try to get a grasp of human behaviour through play. When I work with adolescents in youth care or through social services, that is the way I wield the theater. We use the stage and performing to create a (non-threatening) connection with their simmering mental issues. Because of its physical aspects, acting and performing offer a more direct way of communication. As J.L. Moreno put it, “The body remembers what the mind forgets.”

Nobody ever loses the ability to play, the power of imagination. When that ability or that power is reactivated through working with the theatrical form, new connections and insights can be generated.


An added advantage of the theater as a tool to explore mental health issues is its focus on the encounter. That meeting of minds and bodies is central to its power, and that goes for the performer as well as the spectator. Those different roles can also be used to provoke different understandings.