Gilead Community Services, the Free At Last Players’ parent organization, has indicated that they can no longer afford to fund the group. The Free At Last Players’ needs are modest. Their current budget comprises 0.1% of the overall Gilead budget.
Perhaps the most difficult aspect of dealing with mental illness is the stigma that is associated with the malady. By showcasing their first-hand perspectives via performance art, the Free at Last Players combat this stigma. The group consists of members who – whether they are mentally ill or not – recognize that every person deserves to be seen as just that: a person. With strengths and weaknesses just like anyone else.
While focused on the issues outlined above, Free At Last Players performances cover a wide range of issues. The group advocates for no particular political party or issue. Performance pieces have taken positions both for and against medication, disclosure, and “the system” – among many other things.
Members of the Free at Last Players are encouraged to perform but performance is not a requirement of group membership. The group’s most highly held value is acceptance. Many members find in the group a welcome forum where they can speak openly about their experiences with mental illness and unfair exclusion in all its forms.
The Free At Last Players strive to reach new groups who might benefit from and/or appreciate the group’s message. Finding in performance art a labor of love, the Free at Last Players make the world a more accepting place – one audience at a time.
The Free at Last Players is a not-for-profit theater group dedicated to dispelling the myths and misconceptions that surround mental illness. Founded in 1989, the group has performed all over Connecticut and the United States with shows consisting of songs, poems and skits created by the group’s members.