Balancing Act Learning Objectives:
The Balancing Act Performance / Presentation:
- Allows a mental health provider to see mental illness from the patient's perspective.
- Presents an intelligent, informative portrayal of bipolar mood disorder and its effects on one's self-esteem and day-to-day coping.
- Helps break the stigma of mental illness.
- Changes the audience's perception of individuals with mental illness.
- Provides a better understanding of mental illness.
- It gives others permission to talk about their mental health challenges and experiences.
In 1996, Wambui Bahati started recovering from emotional and mental health issues. She asked, "What would you do if you knew you could not fail?" Her answer was, "Perform again."
However, she was sure that no one would hire her again because of her mental health history. So she decided to create a musical show for herself. Advice from other writers was, "Write what you know about." After more than 35 years as a patient in the mental health system, she decided to share her story.
In 1997, Beth Melcher, the North Carolina National Alliance for the Mentally Ill president, saw the Balancing Act's debut performance in Greensboro, NC. The following week she applied for a grant to sponsor a ten-city tour of the show in North Carolina.
After the North Carolina tour (1998-1999), other cities requested the show. The show became the 'keynote' performance at major conventions and conferences across the United States.
Wambui received the 2001 Lionel Aldridge Award based on the show's success. This national honor recognizes individuals who provide extraordinary service and courage on behalf of people with mental illnesses.
Presenter: Wambui Bahati
Wambui Bahati (A.K.A. John Ann Washington) began her formal theatrical studies at the New York University School of the Arts (later renamed the Tisch School of the Arts.) and made her professional theatrical debut in Godspell at Ford's Theater in Washington, DC. She performed in the Broadway productions of Godspell and Jesus Christ Superstar.
Wambui's regional and touring credits include starring roles in:
- The Magic Show
- Joseph Papp's rock version of Two Gentlemen of Verona
- Little Ham
- Don't Bother Me, I Can't Cope
- Gone With the Wind –the musical
- The Wiz
Wambui wrote, produced, and stars in the one-woman musical, Balancing Act and the play I Am Domestic Violence. These shows have received national acclaim for the unique way they provide outstanding entertainment while dealing with critical issues in our communities.
Wambui has written and performed custom presentations for organizations such as NOW (National Organization for Women), Habitat for Humanity, Jimmy Carter Weekend, and the Carter Center. She presents as an inspirational speaker and humorist throughout the US and Canada.
Named John Ann Washington at birth, Wambui Bahati is her legal name taken on during the "reinvention of herself." Wambui means "singer of songs " in Swahili," Bahati means, "my fortune is good." The native North Carolinian lives in New York City and is the proud mother of two adult daughters.
She is the author of the highly acclaimed, tell-all, autobiographical empowerment book "You Don't Know Crazy - My Life Before, During, After, Above, and Beyond Mental Illness." Her other books include "Domestic Violence and Relationship Abuse Awareness and Prevention for College Women - A Reminder" and "They Are Not Going To Save Us."