UpStage Stigma

Directed by Emily Erwin-Frank

UpStage Stigma is a project through which artists tell stories of mental illness and emotional struggle with performance art. The main goal of its creators is to produce an event that uses art and social justice to cultivate appreciation for our shared human experiences. Together, we break the barriers of stigma that divide us through creativity, empathy, and advocacy.

The project is sponsored by the wonderful UW-Madison School of Social Work, and co-sponsored by Maven Vocal Arts.

Produced by UpStage Stigma and the UW-Madison School of Social Work at Majestic, 115 King Street, Madison

Performances: May 19, 2018

Performance Times:
Doors at 7:00; show at 7:30

Free admission

Call 414-418-6330 for more information.

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Auditions will be held on the following days:


Auditions will be at Maven Vocal Arts, 1951 Winnebago St., Madison, on April 5 and 6 from 6-9pm.

Sign up for auditions atĀ

We invite you to prepare a 3-12 minute piece, in the performance art form of your choice, that expresses an experience of (one or more of) the following:

mental illness, emotional struggle, stigma, resiliency and coping, overlapping oppressed identities, social injustice related to mental health, supporting a friend or family member through struggle, (add your related theme here!)

Our goal is to to decrease stigma by cultivating a space where our shared humanity is felt.

Examples of 2017 acts:
-Vocal performance from the musical Next to Normal
-Saxophone solo
-Dances (hip hop, classical, etc.)
-Mindfulness rap
-Monologue with bass player (themes: processing trauma, grief)
-Slam poetry and poetry reading (On depression; on living with an eating disorder)
-Authors reading from their novels (Pleading Insanity and North for Sun)
-A speech about having the courage to seek treatment
-Piano and vocals: "Freak" with projected art expressing the experience of homophobia and how it affects mental health

We welcome new interpretations of this proposal. We will be selecting acts based on overall quality, furtherance of our mission, and need for variety of performance styles and themes.

If your act is not selected for the show, we may feature it on our website, or invite you to audition for next year's show. Thank you for your consideration! Please contact us at if you have any questions.