When theatre is more than just good entertainment
Rachel D’Sa // Arts and Culture Editor
For some, theatre is either a distant high school memory or a great date night idea. For others, theatre stands as a meaningful and crucial coping mechanism.
Former Capilano University student, Nathan Zwicker, hopes to further advertise the oft-overlooked benefits of theatre through the creation of his performance company, Theatre for Thought. As of mid-October, the company will be nearing its one-year anniversary.
The previous Acting for Stage and Screen student described the company as a community out to promote emotional and mental development through a therapy-like experience with the art form. As an individual battling mental illness, Zwicker noted that over the years, he has found comfort and support through theatre.
“The theatre is a space where you are safe to feel and express a vast range of emotions. I feel it helped me figure out my own emotional identity,” he said.
The idea of starting his own company crossed Zwicker’s mind when he noticed how many people had similar stories to his. Many of his fellow performers had found theatre to be the light in their dark times, sparking him to have the thought. “Theatre has helped my classmates and I’m sure there is a way for it to help others.” He concluded that he wanted to make it a priority to provide others, especially youth, with the same opportunities to explore themselves via theatre.
However, Zwicker noted that his project does not claim to be a source of medical therapy. “We simply believe the dramatic arts, like all mediums of art, are good for the mind, body and spirit,” he said. Through theatre, he has grown as an individual, helping him to become comfortable with himself after a long history of mental illness.
“The theatre gives me a chance to come as close as possible to walking a mile in another’s shoes, so I am always seeing things from new perspectives. I experience emotions that I may not have discovered in my daily life,” he said.
Zwicker credits CapU for showing him just how many like-minded people there are out there, and that when they come together, they can create amazing works through sharing the same learning and working environment. He noted that when he had begun his education at the University, he was unsure of what aspect of theatre he wanted to be involved in. However, the school helped him refine what he was after in life.
“CapU introduced me to many of the people that would inspire what Theatre for Thought stands for. The support I received from my peers and teachers really helped push me towards this very large goal,” Zwicker reflected.
Theatre for Thought has focused its efforts on raising awareness of the beneficial capabilities of theatre, and since the start up, has been able to cultivate widespread interest. Zwicker hopes to gain momentum, and in the meantime, is researching and networking in order to accurately provide specific services to those battling certain illnesses.
Currently, the company is working towards establishing a physical space, while also working on skits and plays to educate and entertain. The company anticipates working its way through the school system, uplifting young artists across the country. Through Theatre for Thought, Zwicker hopes to spread his inspiration and thought-provoking message by promoting theatre, and will continue to shine a spotlight on the positive benefits of the art form.