Laguna Playhouse is proud to announce a new partnership with the Orange County Health Care Agency to provide behavioral health outreach to Transitional Age Youth (TAY) and hard to reach young adults.

LAGUNA BEACH, CA – April 9, 2020 – Laguna Playhouse is proud to announce a new partnership with the Orange County Health Care Agency to provide behavioral health outreach to Transitional Age Youth (TAY) and hard to reach young adults.

Laguna Playhouse will provide innovative theatrical solutions to outreach to these individuals and groups to create awareness regarding behavioral health conditions including mental health and substance abuse disorders, and break the stigma surrounding them.  The Playhouse will reach out to at-risk students in college and traditional educational settings as well as to hard to reach individuals such as at-risk foster youth; veterans; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth; youth who tend to be underserved due to cultural or linguistic barriers; and youth who have experienced trauma and the effects of addiction in their lives. 
For more than fifty years, Laguna Playhouse has worked with young theatre artists through its Education & Youth Theatre Programs. Twenty years ago, they began to address the topic of behavioral health in their plays through its Theatre for a New Generation Series. These performances include panel discussions with counselors and other licensed professionals.  In 2017 Laguna Playhouse started its TheatreHope program that provides outreach to homeless and food insecure youth, veterans and military families, individuals with disabilities, and youth effected by addiction. Recipients of TheatreHope are provided free tickets and transportation to the theatre to see an uplifting play, receive a tour of the theatre, and have the opportunity for discussion sessions with cast and crew.  TheatreHope has provided respite and hope as the motivational spark for self-sufficiency and has allowed the Playhouse to forge tight relationships with over two dozen service organizations serving Orange County’s youth such as Project Hope Alliance, Boys and Girls Clubs, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Human Options, Second Harvest, Laura’s House, and Glennwood Housing to name a few. “Our Ability to collaborate with dozens of service organizations in Orange County over the last few years along with the expressed need for behavioral health services for youth in Orange County has allowed us to develop an innovative approach to link youth to behavioral health services,” said Doug Vogel, Director of Development for Laguna Playhouse.

Our newest outreach program conceived and created by Director of Youth Theatre and Education, Dylan Russell, provides behavioral outreach through a program called “Our Stories.”  This program will work hand in hand with the Playhouse’s Theatre for a New Generation plays and with TheatreHope to target underserved youth by expanding its efforts addressing behavioral health issues.
The Our Stories Program will work with targeted groups at colleges and universities and other nonprofit organizations serving TAY and at-risk young adults by inspiring the participants to creatively explore their significant life experiences through storytelling and playwriting. These stories may include moments of trauma, life challenges or moments of healing and transformation. In some instances, these stories will evolve into plays that will be performed for a larger group or community.  The end result is a cultivation of knowledge and awareness about behavioral health issues and increased access to behavioral health services offered in Orange County. “There is nothing more powerful than to have your story heard and acknowledged by others, said Dylan Russell, Director of Education and Outreach”.  “The Our Stories Project allows the storyteller’s experience to be seen within their community and the listeners to hear that they are not alone in their experiences and in the healing process,” explains Russell.
According to Ms. Russell, Laguna Playhouse is on the cutting edge of the Arts in Health movement – to promote arts and wellness through cross-sector collaborations between public health organizations/arts & culture organizations and community development. Theatre and story-based projects generate sustained community participation, provide an engaging ways to “teach” about behavioral health, and contribute to protective factors such as social support, empathy, and resilience.
“The theatre provides an imagination passport for children that elevates their dreams to what is possible like nothing else,” said Project Hope Alliance Executive Director Jennifer Friend.

Founded in 1920, the historic Laguna Playhouse is one of the oldest continuously-operating not-for-profit theatres on the West Coast and is proud to be an active participant in the celebrated Laguna Beach arts community. From classic plays and musical comedies to the current off-Broadway smash, Laguna Playhouse brings the magical experience of the performing arts direct to over 100,000 patrons each season. 
Laguna Playhouse educational programming includes year-round classes, productions by and for children and teens (Youth Theatre) and is one of the few companies in the region that offer a curriculum-based professional theatre-touring program, TheatreReach, which aligns with the California State Standards for literature, history and performing arts curriculum. 
Laguna Playhouse has been recognized in 2018, 2017, 2016 and 2015 as one of Orange County Register’s “Best of OC” in the category of Live Theatre. The Laguna Playhouse has featured many talented performers on stage, including Ed Asner, Leslie Caron, Hershey Felder, Melanie Griffith, Val Kilmer, Gregory Harrison, Dan Lauria, Hal Linden, Wendie Malick, Rita Rudner, Charles Shaughnessy, French Stewart, Loretta Swit, and Bette Davis. 
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