For any of you out there who have dealt with family members or friends who have suffered with bouts of depression or who have dealt with issues of suicide in any way, there is a show coming up that presents an actor at his prime who escaped the throes of depression. He now travels the country, focusing on being a positive example for audiences (particularly youth). Read on for the information.
Josh Rivedal’s comic journey, The Gospel According to Josh, is at The Media Theatre March 7 to 11. The one man show deals with his adolescence and focuses on how he survived his father’s suicide.
Presented in a humorous style, the show is a part of the theatre’s Black Box Series. It is scheduled for an Off-Broadway run in January 2013 and currently tours high schools and universities as an educational suicide prevention piece.
Rivedal is no stranger to The Media Theatre, having appeared in You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown, Elton John’s Aida, and the Philadelphia premiere of Thrill Me: The Leopold and Loeb Story. He now travels the United States performing The Gospel According to Josh to educate youth about the impact of suicide and resiliency. The piece was actually performed at The Media Theatre one night in 2010 prior to gaining more exposure.
"My grandfather took his life in 1966, starting an unfortunate legacy within my family,” Rivedal explained. “Since my father was the first one on the scene to find my grandfather, it affected him deeply. Determined to be silent about his feelings, my Dad eventually succumbed to suicide himself after going through divorce. You see, the silence was detrimental to him.”
He continued, “After he left us in 2009, I felt it was important to express to others what the impact of taking one’s own life is to those left behind. So the show is my coming of age and how I dealt with the situation.”
Rivedal made sure, when putting the show together, that it was not a dark piece. “It could not be morose, or hard to take. So it’s a comic tapestry during which audiences see me portray 30 characters, sing songs, and impersonate some famous people. It’s funny and poignant, carrying a great message.”
The Gospel has become more of an educational piece through its own growth process. “It has morphed over the years,” Rivedal said. “Audiences were thanking me for bringing this topic to light and began to share their own experiences. So I realized the show was helpful.”
The young actor has his own bouts with depression. “I focus on my recovery,” he said. “I sought assistance with resilience and prevention because I want to be a positive example. Sometimes we have audience discussion following the performance.”
Josh is hopeful that he is assisting others and has seen it happen. “When people exit the show, they realize they are not alone in this journey,” he stated. “The message is that becoming depressed is not a weakness of character. You are not crazy, you just need to find proper treatment. I have gone through it and I am still here to tell you my story. So come on out and share a laugh with me!”
The Gospel According to Josh is at The Media Theatre March 7 through March 11. For tickets, call 610-891-0100 or visit mediatheatre.org