Dedicated to Dontre Hamilton: Performance focuses on mentally ill who are under-served

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- A performance that focuses on the mentally ill who are under-served was dedicated to 31-year-old Dontre Hamilton. The play, called "Pieces: In My Own Voice" is put on by NAMI -- the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and depicts what it's like to live with different kinds of mental illness.

Inside Calvary Baptist Church on N. Teutonia Avenue in Milwaukee on Sunday, November 23rd, folks engaged in a conversation about mental illness.

"We look at some of the prominent disorders -- what it's like to live in that person's shoes," playwright and director Brenda Wesley said.

"Pieces: In My Own Words" consists of six acts covering schizophrenia, depression, ADHD, bipolar disorder, PTSD and suicide.

Wesley has been producing the show for four years -- with most of the original cast.

"With the cast we have people living with a mental illness as well as we have people that have been impacted and affected because of a family member or friends or someone in the community. So everyone is engaged in this production," Wesley said.

Jason Hillman is one of the actors.

"Last season we did at least 15 shows. We do a lot," Hillman said.

Hillman is heavily involved in performing arts, but says playing a role in this production is some of the most meaningful work he's done.

"A lot of people come up and thank us in ways that I haven't been thanked for anything in my life. I love what I do, like comedy and all of the other arts I do -- but I've never felt like I'm doing more important work than I am with this," Hillman said.

Dontre Hamilton was living with mental illness at the time he was shot and killed by a Milwaukee police officer inside Red Arrow Park. Hamilton's family was invited to attend Sunday's matinee.

"So you can better put it in perspective and also use your heart in judging instead of just what you see and what you hear," Dontre Hamilton's brother, Nate Hamilton said.

"We are all touched by someone living with a mental health disorder," Wesley said.

Wesley is also the education and outreach coordinator with NAMI.

CLICK HERE to learn more about NAMI's Greater Milwaukee branch.

CLICK HERE to learn more about Pieces: In My Own Voice.

CLICK HERE for further coverage of the Dontre Hamilton case via