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Mental Health Awareness Spotlight #2: Eric Reda

In honour of #MentalHealthAwarenessMonth, Penny & Pound is shining a spotlight and sharing personal experiences from members of our talented faculty. Introducing Eric Reda (He/Him), who recently made his Penny & Pound (and stage!) debut as John Brooke in LITTLE WOMEN (2021.) In the coming months, Eric will be joining us backstage for our production of CURIOUSER: A NEW MUSICAL, and will be featured in our long-awaited production of SWEENEY TODD, coming July 2022.

{IMAGE DESCRIPTION: A background of purple-and-pink clouds. In the middle is a coloured photograph of Eric Reda. He is Cacuasian, has short dark hair and wears glasses, a dark T-Shirt and a silver chain necklace. He smiles at the camera. To the right-upper corner of the photo are the words 'Eric Reda' 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 Eric Reda. I have a very interesting history... 2) WHAT'S YOUR 'MENTAL HEALTH' STORY? I'll give details but keep the long story short (basically the cliff notes). I was diagnosed with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) in Grade 7, but struggled with it long before then. I never really "fit in" but I had popular friends that kept me in the groups all through high school. During {that time}, I started smoking weed and really enjoyed it because it helped with my ADHD better than my pills did. After high school, I started partying a lot and hanging out with friends that, in hindsight, I shouldn't have {been hanging out with}. I'm going to fast forward a huge section of this story to keep it short but basically during and after college, I had found myself deeply stuck in a downward spiral of hard drug abuse to the point where I had lost absolutely everything. I had hit absolute rock bottom, and OD'd a few times, but with the support of my parent, family and close friends, I was able to drag myself out. 3) HOW HAVE THE ARTS BENEFFITED YOU? I've always loved music because it's an escape. The right song will take you out of reality {and} into a place of peace, a place of remembrance, a place of hope. Music has a powerful effect {on} everyone. 4) HOW HAS THE CURRENT PANDEMIC AFFECTED YOU PERSONALLY? This pandemic has affected me in quite a few ways, some positive and some negative. I'm going to focus on some of the positives today: the pandemic has ultimately brought me inside and forced me to focus on aspects of myself that I had been avoiding by going out and partying. Being forced to stay inside during lockdowns and spending the time with myself that I had been avoiding all these years made me realize so many things that I never would've found out had I kept going the way I was going.

Eric Reda stars as John Brooke in 'LITTLE WOMEN' (2021.) Photo by Rebecca Ashcroft of Far Off Memory Photography. {IMAGE DESCRIPTION: An onstage photo taken during dress rehearsal of 'LITTLE WOMEN.' Eric Reda as John Brooke stands, dressed in a white shirt, silver vest and dark pants. Around his neck is a pink tie. He holds an opened book, and looks off to the right, worried. Behind him is a white fireplace with wooden bookends in the shape of cats. The walls behind him are blue in colour.} 5) WHAT IS SOMETHING YOU WISH YOU'D KNOWN AS A YOUNG PERFORMER/ARTIST? I'm new to the performing arts but knowing what I know now, I wish I had done this earlier. 6) WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR OTHER PERFORMERS/ARTISTS WHO ARE STRUGGLING WITH MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES? Just go for it. As intimating as it seems, just go for it! I decided to try something new and do a play and it was one of the best decisions of my life. Just go for it.

Eric Reda stars as John Brooke, alongside Sydney Schott as Meg March in 'LITTLE WOMEN' (2021.) Photo by Rebecca Ashcroft of Far Off Memory Photography. {IMAGE DESCRIPTION: An onstage photo taken during dress rehearsal of 'LITTLE WOMEN.' Sydney Schott as Meg March, dressed in a white blouse and long blue skirt; and Eric Reda as John Brooke, dressed in a dark suit, sit on a pink-and-brown seatee, talking. Sydney looks worried. The wall behind them is a blueish colour.}



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