What happened to James Chasse? Well, we all know. James was jumped and beaten to death by three cops in downtown Portland. Instead of allowing a medical team to transport him to a nearby hospital for life-saving treatment, the same cops took Jim to jail. When the jail nurses refused to admit Jim thinking he might die in custody, the same cops decided to drive him through rush hour traffic to the furtherest hospital in the city limits. Jim died en route.

What happened afterward? Some good things happened. Jim got well remembered by his family and friends, and thousands of people got to know Jim for the first time through dozens of newspaper stories and editorials. The mayor apologized to the Chasse family. The police chief almost apologized. The city and the county are now teaching all patrol officers about mental illness and how to manage people in crisis. Although Jim was minding his own business and not in crisis, we take what we can get. The district attorney, predictably, failed to secure an indictment by grand jury, and failed to indict the officers himself. The family filed a complicated lawsuit against the city, the county and the ambulance company.

Now what? Sometimes events occur which are so complicated or difficult only the arts can make sense of them. Somehow we can approach conflict within the arts which would fluster or frighten us otherwise. Thank goodness for Art for Action and Cathy Clemens and their new production.

From the Inside Out
Mental Health and Law Enforcement Interactions

From The Inside Out offers interactive plays, exploring issues of mental health, written from personal experiences.

In the style of the Theatre of the Oppressed, short plays requiring problem solving (written mostly by people dealing with mental health issues) are performed first without interruption or solving any issues presented.

When repeated, volunteers from the audience stop scenes, replace chosen characters and act out potential solutions while the other performers improvise around them. Discussion follows each intervention.

We reach people with mental health issues, family, friends, officers, mental health professionals and the general public.

This theater event is organized by Act for Action and earth angel Cathy Clemens, with two public performances.

  • June 5, 6:00 to 8:00 PM at Portland State University’s Multicultural Center, Smith Hall, Room #228
  • June 8, 6:00 to 8:00 pm at Portland Community College, Cascade Campus, Terrel Hall Room #122

Meet Augusto Boal, creator of the Theatre of the Oppressed.