Patrick Donovan
Patrick Donovan
Patrick is a part-time reporter and 2nd year student at UNB pursuing an honours undergraduate degree in History, after which he plans to pursue either his Master’s degree, a law degree, or both! He is originally from Hampton, New Brunswick, a small town about twenty minutes outside of Saint John. With a high school English teacher as a mother, he developed an understanding and appreciation for writing at a young age, and has been loving it ever since! Mostly writing for the Arts & Lifestyle section, he is still fascinated by many other topics. Whether it’s writing about theatre or other performances, food, cultural exchange, dabbling in news, the latest interesting event, or even some new research, you might find him there with something to say about it! No matter the topic, he’s happy to be working with a great team and can’t wait to deliver quality journalism through a student publication. The 2018-2019 year is bound to be full of change and exciting stories, and he wants to help show the Brunswickan’s lovely readers just how much intrigue Fredericton has to offer!
April 1, 2019

TUNB’s Black Dog: 4 Vs. the Wrld focuses in on the effects of mental health issues

Photo by Mike Johnston

TUNB put the spotlight on mental health issues from Jan. 30 to Feb. 2 with their performance of Matthew Heiti’s Black Dog: 4 Vs. the Wrld.

Black Dog has been described as an “innovative” play about mental health, which seeks to meld mental health issues together with the new power of technology, both in life and on stage. Written for teenagers experiencing difficulty anywhere on the mental health spectrum, the show’s main characters play out the realities of struggling teenagers.

Black Dog aims to highlight the stigma around mental health issues. Heiti said he wanted to show that this subject is “universal”, and intense mental health experiences like clinical depression are “only a few steps away from something relatable like lowercase ‘d’ depression.”

Photo by The Brunswickan

As his mother was a mental health nurse for over 30 years, Heiti has a personal connection to mental health issues. “The discussion of mental health was something we talked about all the time around the dinner table,” he said.

When Heiti was first commissioned by the Sudbury Theatre Company to write a piece on mental health however, he declined the offer. Heiti is more of a story-focused playwright, and he didn’t want to do a topic piece that might jeopardize a more compelling tale.

He reevaluated his decision when he realized the importance of discussing mental health. Heiti decided to craft a show that could help show those struggling with mental illness the importance of “togetherness.”

“[You can’t] hold mental health issues inside because that’s when they create a problem,” Heiti said.

Heiti saw a video while researching for his work that depicted people with the title of their mental illness preceding their real name. The video showed how damaging it is to see people as “just their labels, just their illnesses, and how we often put people into boxes and define them by their illness,” Heiti said.

In this respect, he numbered Black Dog’s main characters 1, 2 ,3, 4 and 5 to show how we often put people into convenient categories that suit our perspectives.

Austin Taylor, playing 5, said, “Although this show focuses on mental illness, it’s applicable to any group of people helping each other deal with anything.”

Alexe LaPointe, in the role of 2, felt her character presented a new way of expressing her feelings that wasn’t available to her before acting. “I couldn’t say those things myself but I had the opportunity to do it now through the character,” LaPointe said.

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