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Why I Fight (Postponed due to COVID-19)

Detail from portrait by Rives Wiley.

Due to the University of Michigan campus response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Why I Fight performances, panels and related events are all postponed. Dates TBA. 

Why I Fight, a theatrical adaptation of the 2019 Michigan Quarterly Review novelette by James Munro Leaf, dramatizes the perils of being defined by a mental illness and being caught in the psychiatric system. It probes the presumption of labels and the complex dynamics of power. Director and adapter Gillian Eaton leads a diverse cast and crew of faculty and students from U-M School of Music, Theatre & Dance and U-M College of Literature, Science and the Arts, including actors Malcolm Tulip and Tommy Gomez, in this production at U-M Residential College Keene Theater. Dates TBA. 

Based on collaboration with the U-M Heinz C. Prechter Bipolar Research Program and other University units, panels on mental illness and the arts follow each performance. Panelists will expand on themes in Why I Fight and invite conversation with audience members. Individuals and family members who live with mental illness; U-M faculty conducting psycho-social, public health, and biomedical research; and practitioners in the arts will explore the roles of creativity and the outdoors in healing. Dr. Melvin McInnis, Director of the Prechter Program, and other U-M mental health experts, will moderate the panels.

A catered reception and information tables for community resources in the arts and mental health follow each performance.

Check out this short video exploring mental health obstacles that U-M students face with the healing power of the arts, created by Sophia Liu and Kelly Zhu under the guidance of Liz Goodenough:


Why I Fight events are for those who want to 

  • ask questions about research and treatments for mental illness
  • explore the relationship between mental illness and the impact of the arts in healing
  • support family members, friends, and students with mental illness
  • prevent suicide among young adults
  • shift the legal system towards more humane interventions

Our partners are:

  • Residential College
  • School of Music, Theatre & Dance (SMTD)
  • Heinz C. Prechter Bipolar Research Program
  • Michigan Quarterly Review

Sponsors contributing $1,000 or more are (as of 3/6/20):

  • Center for Research on Learning and Teaching (CRLT)
  • College of Literature, Science and the Arts (LSA) Dean's Office
  • Department of Psychology, LSA
  • Division of Student Life
  • Honors Program, LSA
  • MCubed
  • Michigan Medicine
  • Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (ODEI)
  • Office of the Associate Dean for Social Sciences, LSA
  • Office of the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education, LSA
  • Rackham Graduate School
  • Sally and Ian Bund
  • School of Social Work
  • Stephanie Wenner Warburg
  • U-M Office of Research (UMOR)

Sponsors contributing up to $1,000 are (as of 3/6/20):

  • ArtsEngine
  • David and Karen Ufer
  • English Language Institute (ELI), LSA
  • Global Scholars Program (GSP), LSA
  • Health Sciences Scholars Program, LSA
  • Institute for the Humanities
  • Lloyd Scholars for Writing and the Arts, LSA
  • Nathaniel G. Butler
  • School of Nursing
  • University Housing