The One With Friends was a play and research project produced by the UCLA Center for Health Services and Society as part of the California Center of Excellence for Behavioral Health and recently featured in JAMA: The Journal of the American Medication Association. The play revolves around a lonely writer and a struggling actor both living with depression and how the TV show Friends helps them in the healing process along with the support of each other and the friendship they form. The play had five performances (2 at UCLA; 2 in NYC; and 1 as a guest production on the Santa Monica Playhouse Main Stage). Directed by Ashley Griggs; Written by Joseph Mango; Starring Nick McLoughlin, Miranda Wynne, Chloé Hung, and Lindsey Moore Ford.
The research project (Principal Investigator: Joseph Mango) explored how the arts can help promote healing and de-stigmatize depression when accurately portrayed. For this, the audience was given the option to participate in a short anonymous survey to complete before and after the play in helping us measure perceptions/attitudes regarding depression and stigma and if those attitudes changed after watching the play.
“It’s not often that you experience something that makes you take a look at yourself, and from there, makes you want to be a better person. “The One with Friends” provides just that kind of experience…a sweet and sensitive story that is sure to remind you that a little kindness goes a long way.”
“The play opened up my mind on what it’s like for someone living with major depression and how the arts can be so powerful, especially during the times you need it most.”
“Beautiful play about friendship and being stigma free. I laughed, I cried, I agreed.”
“You brought a sensitive topic onto the stage and presented it in a way that was entertaining, relatable, humorous, enlightening, and inspiring. The show was expertly written and directed, and the actors did a spot-on performance. I left feeling changed.”
“A truly meaningful and funny and smart play with a lovely cast that conveys its complexity and hope.”
“It was warm, funny, and very touching.”
“It was absolutely wonderful and powerful. I teared up during some parts and laughed during the rest. It was a triumph.”