Actors at Saskatoon's Persephone Theatre are getting a unique look into the world of mental illness by spending time with people who suffer from schizophrenia and depression. 

It's part of their preparations before taking the theatre's Youth Series on tour with two plays that deal with the issues. 

Tuesday the cast and crew heard from people who live with the illnesses, with the goal of making the productions as authentic as possible. 

Jacob Yaworski plays a homeless man with schizophrenia in Edward The Crazy Man.

"I'm portraying certain illnesses that I don't have in my real life, so you really got to do your homework and do your research in order to play those in a respectful and convincing manner," said Yaworski. 


Director Will Brooks (left) and actor Jacob Yaworski (right) run lines for 'Edward the Crazy Man,' a play that's part of Persephone Theatre's Youth Series. (Britainy Robinson/CBC )

Matthew Proctor was one of the people at the theatre who shared his experience with schizophrenia. 

He said Tuesday there are all kinds of misconceptions about mental illness because of the way it's often portrayed on TV and in the media.

"You know they're always the psychotic murderer or you know a rapist or who knows, there's all sorts of things they paint them to be," said Proctor. "But it's not like that at all you know, we're just human beings."

Proctor, who was diagnosed when he was 19 years old, went on to explain his mood disorder that sometimes makes him feel very happy and other times depressed. 

"I can sometimes hear voices speaking to me, sometimes I might see things that aren't really there, you know. Or get ideas about things that are false, fixed beliefs," he said. "It was really a bad nightmare that never ended for many years." 

Proctor said speaking with the actors gave him an opportunity to help them understand what someone with schizophrenia actually experiences. 

He said it's also a good way to show people that they shouldn't get scared if they have symptoms and that there are ways to get help. 

The shows Edward the Crazy Man and Beyond the Cuckoo's Nest will begin touring at the end of February.

Persephone theatre says about 10,000 people will see the shows on their Saskatchewan school tour.