The Manic Monologues: Destigmatizing Mental Health

TLDR: The Manic Monologues is an original play showcasing true stories from people touched by mental illness. Your donation will help establish a grant to bring these stories to audiences around the world.

About The Manic Monologues:
The Manic Monologues is an original performance revealing brave, true stories of people touched by mental illness. These stories convey the struggle and pain of mental illness, but also the humor, triumph, and joy. Our monologues showcase everything from OCD to depression, schizophrenia to PTSD, bipolar, anxiety, and more. The goal? To disrupt stigma.

This cause is extremely important. 1 in 4 Americans experiences a mental health condition in any given year. Yet mental illness is taboo. Why isn’t there conversation?  Lack of conversation leads to fear, fear leads to lack of conversation. It's a vicious loop. Yet, when we are afraid and silent, people suffer alone. 

These diverse stories will challenge and inform your ideas about what it means to be touched by a mental health disorder. They will demonstrate that we’re in this together, and we’re all human.

"This is a moving come one, come all evening that will touch everyone who loves theater and its ability to bring us together. The Manic Monologues have all the power of truth-telling. The voices in this remarkable piece of theater have stayed with me. It's  just an extraordinary project. A terrific work, painstakingly assembled, that does shine a real light on a subject too often hidden." -- Amy Freed, playwright and Pulitzer Prize finalist for Freedomland

"The key to reducing stigma, it's increasingly apparent, is contact, humanization, and personal narrative. As a poignant and deeply honest set of first-person accounts, The Manic Monologues accomplishes these goals brilliantly." -- Dr. Stephen Hinshaw, Professor of Psychology, UC Berkeley; Professor of Psychiatry, UC San Francisco; author, Another Kind of Madness: A Journey through the Stigma and Hope of Mental Illness

Our story:
When Zack had his first psychotic break and was diagnosed with bipolar in May 2017, his and Elisa's world imploded.  Would mental illness dictate their whole life?  Would everything change? Zack was under water, and Elisa had no way of knowing whether her happy and gregarious partner would ever resurface.

After months of uncertainty, hope for a future emerged.  A year later, Zack and Elisa decided they did not want others to suffer through the same fear and shame they had faced. They decided to start a conversation. They hope that by showcasing relatable stories of mental illness, they can break the silence and help end the stigma surrounding mental health and illness.

Our team:
Co-founders Zack Burton and Elisa Hofmeister are working with an international team including Victoria Maxwell, a performer living with multiple mental illnesses and featured in NYT, CNN, WSJ, and Psychology Today, and who previously acted alongside the likes of Johnny Depp and John Travolta; Dr. Rona Hu, who was Medical Director of Stanford Hospital’s acute psychiatric inpatient unit for 20 years, was an advisor to Netflix’s “13 Reasons Why,” and is a creator of theatrical vignettes on Asian American mental health; Tom Shroder, who as ghost writer and editor has been responsible for multiple New York Times bestsellers and as former editor of The Washington Post Magazine oversaw two Pulitzer Prize-winning stories; Dr. Stephen Hinshaw, Professor of Psychology at UC Berkeley and Professor of Psychiatry at UCSF, and author of Another Kind of Madness: A Journey through the Stigma and Hope of Mental Illness; and Dr. Seema Yasmin, an Emmy Award-winning journalist, medical doctor, and author. The production benefits from critical input by playwright and Pulitzer finalist Amy Freed. Most importantly of all, this production would not be possible without our dozens of brave storytellers

About This Fundraiser:
We want to make our play available to audiences across the country, and even around the world. In order to do so, we're asking for your help. Currently, The Manic Monologues will premiere at Stanford University on May 2-4, 2019. We are funding this inaugural performance, but we would love to provide starter funding to community theaters and universities so they can continue the movement. 

Specifically, we want to be able to provide grants to any theater group who would like to stage our play, which will help remove financial barriers for anyone who wants to inspire conversations about mental health by bringing this performance to life. 

Please donate. Your contribution will go directly towards a grant fund that will help people talk about mental health and illness as openly as they would about a new relationship, or a difficult boss.

Thank you for your generosity, and we look forward to disrupting stigma together. Please share this campaign widely. Help spread the conversation.


Elisa Hofmeister & Zack Burton
Co-founders, The Manic Monologues

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Contact the founders: [email redacted]
Press contact: [email redacted]


Zack Burton
Stanford, CA

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