(Anna Sorokina’s article appeared in Russia Beyond the Headlines, 7/17.)

Have you ever watched a staging of Chekhov where all the roles are played by patients at a psychiatric hospital? In the Russian city of Samara, it’s possible.

Those who have seen people with mental disabilities on stage claim that it’s an incredible experience. Although the difference between these actors and “normal” people is noticeable in only a more sensitive feeling of each role, there’s more to the story.

In the Happy Accident art studio at the Samara Psychiatric Hospital (700 miles south of Moscow), they stage positive and cheerful performances because doctors believe that such plays give maximum therapeutic benefit for even those patients with the grimmest diagnosis. In fact, four of the 11 actors at the studio have already left the hospital. 

Nothing shameful in mental illness

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Photo: Russia Beyond

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