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Out of the Root Cellar and Into the Light: Adventures in Mental Illness

May 20, 2018 @ 5:30 pm - 6:30 pm

Our adventures are a menudo of extremes and shared experience, from exorcisms for schizophrenia, messenger coyotes, manic euphoria, to good old fashioned homelessness and clinical depression. Current and former clients of the LA County Department of Mental Health’s Northeast Wellness Center meet each week to put pen to paper. This alchemy is the wonder of healing through creativity. We invite you to join us in celebrating resiliency and restoration through our stories.

Featured Guests: Stella Archer (host), Nathan “Andy” Cambridge, Jessie Cho, Christopher Hayden, Rita Lucero, Marbel Martinez, Juan Melgoza, Percilla Murrieta, Frederick Valle, and Otto Voormann


NATHAN “ANDY” CAMBRIDGE – Andy almost never reads his work in public. When he has written poetry, he didn’t know they were poems. He embraces the idea that the polar points of his mind unlock opportunity and creativity. He is also a professional actor and sports writer whenever the opportunity arises. Nathan is seeking new things.

FREDERICK VALLE – Freddy’s serenity is sometimes disrupted by isolating suspicion, fear, and paranoia, accompanied by disorienting auditory and visual hallucinations. He recovered from his first episode of schizophrenia to finish college. With loving support from his family, Freddy sought help. He is working on his whole person recovery with optimism. He intends to be working next year. “We are ambassadors for mental illness, sharing our stories so we can heal and help others who are afraid.”

JESSIE CHO – Almost everything Jessie has done was “a long time ago,” except for her current and happiest journey of NOW. She is a writer, a foodie, and a County community worker. In her next life she would like to be a chef with good skin who is at least 5’7” tall. Jessie LOVES to laugh.

OTTO VOORMANN – is never sure how to describe himself effectively. When pressed, he calls himself: a bit of a philosopher, maybe a comedian, kind of a poet, and a low-grade heretic. All these are wrapped up in a daydreamer who loves seeing a concept take a tangible form, perhaps as words upon a page.

RITA LUCERO – “I am a smart and nice person to people that need help. I have a good positive mind when I put myself out and teach things that I know about in the world. I like myself because I don’t give up; I don’t quit.”

JUAN MELGOZA – Before being diagnosed with schizophrenia, Juan was given an exorcism, treated by a medicine man and rejected by most of his family because of his illness. Since becoming a client at Northeast Mental Health Clinic and the Wellness Center he has been in recovery. He became first a volunteer, then a paid worker. He also earned his second AA degree in Liberal Arts from East Los Angeles Community College.

CHRISTOPHER HAYDEN – is a newly arriving writer, who found not only a place to feel safe to address his life with humor and the occasional pathos, but something even more unexpected; a voice he didn’t know he was missing until he found himself desiring to sing.

PERCILLA MURRIETA – When asked, “how are you?” Percilla always says, “Blessed!” with enthusiasm and sincerity. She has transformed her self and her life from victim, gang member, and PCP addict, to recovery, employment, service, and faith. This is her first time reading her work.

MARBEL MARTINEZ – is currently homeless and still experiences symptoms of her illness. Nevertheless, with fierce determination she is creating a healthier life. Marbel volunteers at the Wellness Center and at Recycled Resources for the Homeless, giving back and doing service. She is telling her story for the first time with this reading.

STELLA ARCHER (Host) – has had several incarnations in this lifetime, including being an actor from 16 years old to 40-something. She is a member of the Screen Actors Guild, AFTRA, Equity and SEIU. After a crash and burn in her life, circling the drain for a time, she happily followed a path to work with the LA County Department of Mental Health’s NE Wellness Center. Stella started the Writing Your Life Stories Group in 2009. She has been inspired by witnessing people blossom, finding their voice, their truth, and their light by cultivating creativity through writing. Stella is proud to serve these writers.


May 20, 2018
5:30 pm - 6:30 pm
Event Category:


Pasadena Playhouse Friendship Room
39 S El Molino Ave
Pasadena, CA 91101 United States