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Mental Health Awareness Spotlight #1: Heather Firlotte

In honour of October being #MentalHealthAwarenessMonth, Penny & Pound is shining a spotlight and sharing personal experiences from members of our talented faculty. Introducing Heather Firlotte (She/Her), who made her P&P debut in our triumphant production of 'LES MISERABLES (2017).' Since then, Heather has appeared in 'THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME (2018),' as Clara/Gentlewoman in 'A CHRISTMAS CAROL: A NEW MUSICAL RADIO PLAY (2020)' and is currently starring as The Duchess in our upcoming presentation of 'CURIOUSER: A NEW MUSICAL (2021).'

{IMAGE DESCRIPTION: A background of purple-and-pink clouds. In the middle is a coloured photograph of Heather Firlotte. She is Caucasian, has wavy dark hair and wears a black dress with pink flowers. She holds her hands on her hips and smiles. To the right-upper corner of the photo are the words 'Heather Firlotte' in white-and-gold cursive. Beneath the photo are the words 'Mental Health Awareness Week at Penny & Pound Theatre Productions' written in white lettering.} 1) TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF My name is Heather Firlotte. I am an Early Childhood Educator (Kindergarten Before and After-School Child-Care) teacher, board member for Cambridge Community Players, and thespian. 2) WHAT'S YOUR 'MENTAL HEALTH' STORY? I suffer from anxiety. 3) HOW HAVE THE ARTS BENEFFITED YOU? The arts (especially theatre and singing) have benefited me tremendously! The arts calms me/helps me to express my thoughts and feelings, increases my confidence, supports me in staying motivated, gives me something to look forward to, and provides me an opportunity to connect with others. 4) HOW HAS THE CURRENT PANDEMIC AFFECTED YOU PERSONALLY? The pandemic affected me personally by changing the way I participate in theatre. During the earlier part of the pandemic, I participated in virtual theatre. I starred as Clara/Gentlewoman in Penny & Pound Theatre Productions', 'A Christmas Carol: A Musical Radio Play'; {I portrayed} Nana in ICHTHYS Theatre Productions' {radio production of} “The Velveteen Rabbit” and was awarded 1ST place by the adjudicators for my performance of “20 Something” – Ava by A. A. Gardner in Innovative Productions' Centre Stage: Monologue Slam Showcase!

Heather Firlotte (third) performs in 'The Hunchback of Notre Dame' (2018.) Also pictured are Kathleen Stevens (far-left), Madelena Byrnell (left) and Kaleigh Wiens (far-right.) {IMAGE DESCRIPTION: A coloured-photo of a group of girls dancing on stage. They wear long skirts, and carry ribbons on sticks. In the background are a group of performers, dressed in costumes from the 1600s.} 5) WHAT IS SOMETHING YOU WISH YOU HAD KNOWN AS A YOUNG PERFORMER OR ARTIST? Somethings I wish I had known as a young performer/artist is to: • Don’t let your worry and fear stop you from participating in theatre. • Be bold/big! With your characters and in life (Go big or go home!). • Be more fearless/vulnerable/open with my acting (as well off the stage). • Connect with others in the cast and crew. 6) WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR OTHER PERFORMERS WHO SUFFER FROM MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES? I have a few pieces of advice for other performers/artists struggling with mental illness: • Things always get better. • You are strong and can get through anything life throws at you. • Talking about it/counselling helps. (e.g., Wellness Together Canada). • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy helps. (e.g., Mindbeacon iCBT) • Seek help and practice self-care. • Feel your feelings. • Do not let your mental illness define you.

Heather Firlotte (right) performs in 'Les Miserables' (2017.) Also pictured are Rachel Zehr (left) and Madelena Byrnell (middle.) Photo by James Distel. {IMAGE DESCRIPTION: A coloured photo of three girls standing at a table. They wear white blouses and dark aprons. In the background are a set of large wooden steps, and a wall painted to look like stone.}



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