Meg Cormack has seen her play come to life on stage before. But this year, Squalls of Glass will be a full-length production.
The fourth-year honors English and School for Advanced Studies in the Arts and Humanities (SASAH) student wrote Squalls of Glass about a group of theatre students who are trying to prepare a musical in the wake of the suicide of their close friend and cast mate.
Given that the play's themes are mental health and loss, Cormack decided to once again donate ticket proceeds to Canadian Mental Health Association's Middlesex branch, just like she did last year.
“The play is really about them trying to come to terms with the loss,” Cormack says. “It’s about the way art can help us heal and help us come to terms with tragedy”.
With the encouragement of her American Drama professor, George Ramos, Cormack turned her 13-page class assignment into a live production featuring Western students and alumni. For Cormack, bringing Squalls of Glass to the stage is much more than a personal achievement.
“As an arts student, I truly believe that the arts have a greater capacity to deal with social issues,” she says. “Its important for me to explore the power that the arts have to bridge the outside world with the psychological, as well as the fictional.”
In Squalls of Glass, the character of Dean (played by Cormack) has committed suicide but maintains an active role in the plot. “[Dean] is able to speak, she is a character and she’s able to tell her story in her own words, which is not something we get to have in real life,” Cormack says.
Michelle Dumont, a recent Western graduate and now enrolled with the Faculty of Education, plays the character of Larson in the show. She also emphasizes that it is important to tell the stories of individuals affected in the aftermath of a friend’s suicide.
“Sometimes this is overlooked and you don’t really understand how it affects other people,” Dumnont says. “I think [Squalls of Glass] will open people’s eyes to the different ways we cope.”
When asked what audiences will take away from the show, Cormack replied: “My editor, Jesyka Traynor, has a quote that I really like; ‘I hope Squalls of Glass will take you to the place that you need to go.’”
For Cormack, it's important to reform the social dialogue about suicide and mental health in general, and erase any stigma surrounding these conversations. “But its also important to understand why those social dialogues exist and where they’re coming from,” she adds.
Squalls of Glass will run Feb. 15 – 16 at 8 p.m. Tickets are available online at www.artsproject.ca/theatre/squalls-of-glass as well as at the door. Tickets are $15 for general admission and $10 for students.