HOMETOWN ENTERTAINMENT: “Echoes” shines a spotlight on mental health in new production at Showtimers Community Theatre

Shows run Thursday to Saturday at 7:30 pm, with Sunday matinees at 2 pm through March 5
The subject matter is cathartic for the actors in the show, which puts mental illness in the spotlight
Published: Feb. 24, 2023 at 5:40 AM EST
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) -In Showtimers Community Theatre’s latest play, “Echoes,” Tilda and Sam build their own pretend paradise, in an effort to shield themselves from the harshness of the real world.

Actress Betsy Quillen plays Tilda.

“Tilda is very much about protecting herself, and she doesn’t want to deal with the pain of reality or remembering things from her past,” says Quillen.

“Sam has taken a practical view, while engaging in this fantasy with Tilda. There are times with Sam tries to bring Tilda down to a more normal level,” says actor Anthony Maranto, who plays Sam.

As you can probably guess, their bliss doesn’t last.

Sally Miller is the director of the show.

“It blurs illusion and reality, and we wonder sometimes what’s real, who’s real and the outside world is represented by someone called ‘the person’ who intrudes upon this world that they’ve created,” says Miller.

Miller says the play was originally performed back in the ‘70s.

“Over the years, it hasn’t been well received, because people don’t necessarily want to acknowledge that mental illness is real,” says Miller.

With discussions about mental illness becoming more accepted, Miller felt like now was time to bring it to the Showtimers stage.

For the actors, the subject matter hits close to home.

“I definitely have some traumas in my past and I have some effects of PTSD that there are some times when we’re in rehearsal and I’m saying a line or Anthony is saying a line, and it’s like ‘Oh I’ve said that, or I’ve thought that or I’ve felt that,” says Quillen.

“When I first read the script, right away, I could see myself in the lines and it scared me a little bit,” says Maranto.

Having this imaginary world is how these characters cope.

For Quillen, it’s about finding a balance.

“I think that’s the crux of is when is that too far? And how do you find a balance of accepting the pain that reality has and letting yourself feel that along with helping yourself with pretend,” says Quillen.

While “Echoes” offers the performers a chance to work through their own feelings and experiences, the director hopes it also has a lasting impact on the audience.

”I want people to come and appreciate the art of it, the theatre of it, but I also would hope that it can open conversations afterwards,” says Miller.

For ticket information, click here.