Solo Arts Heal
Hosted by Gail Schickele

Excerpts, talkbacks and Q&A with special guests
providing health and healing education and advocacy.

Wednesday June 2, 2021

Melissa Bangs

Playing Monopoly with God

About the Show

Melissa Bangs is a storyteller at heart. For her, a true story with all of its highs and lows, its light and dark, its clarity and murkiness is the route to understanding, forgiveness and compassion.  Her hope is that by sharing her lived experience, boldly, with a dose of humor and self-love, others will be inspired to shed their shame, find forgiveness & tell their own true stories.  As we deeply hear one another and offer our truest voices… we transform.

In September 2012, at 40 years old, Melissa Bangs gave birth to her beautiful daughter Adelaide.  A month later, dramatically hormone depleted and sleep deprived, Melissa is admitted to the Providence Psychiatric Facilities in a complete manic state.  After nearly a month, she is sent home with a bipolar diagnosis and on lithium.  What comes next is an extraordinary journey back to wholeness, back to love.

On her journey back, one of the things Bangs did was read her entire 100 plus page hospital record. Somewhere, around page 87, there is a nurse’s note that looks as if it were scribbled late at night after a long shift.  It reads, “Patient says she will do comedy on this experience.”  Upon reading this, Bangs laughed out loud. 

The psych team couldn’t have possibly known that Bangs has been a storyteller her entire life and did comedy for a stint, as a student, at the Upright Citizens’ Brigade in New York City.  They couldn’ t have known that transforming a few details and layers of the most painful experience of her life into a room full of laughter would prove healing for dozens of people, if not more.

Join Melissa for an evening of true stories full of bewilderment, chaos and hilarity.  Bangs has a knack for telling true stories that cut to the bone of our shared, vulnerable human condition. Her true gift, however, comes in the moments in which she’s able to strip away the shame or agony of an experience and transform the room into an uproar of laughter.

About the Performer

Melissa Bangs is fifth generation Montanan. In her many years away from Montana, Melissa worked as a labor organizer, a development director of an international human rights organization, a Spanish teacher and a nonprofit consultant with an emphasis on strategic planning, fundraising, board development and facilitation.  Her journey away from Montana took her to Santa Cruz, Mexico, Chile, San Francisco, El Salvador and New York City.  In 2004, Melissa brought her nonprofit consulting business home from NYC and worked with well over 100 nonprofit organizations throughout Montana before the birth of her daughter, Adelaide, in 2012. Between 2015 and the present, Melissa has drawn on her comedic roots from the Upright Citizens’ Brigade in NYC and shared her story with over 7,000 people. Melissa toured with her husband, Eric, daughter, Adelaide and their 130 pound dog, Etta James. Their journey has led them all over Montana, on a year-long West Coast Tour, to DC, NYC and beyond. All along the way Melissa’s mantra has been, “If my story does nothing else, may it unleash yours.” To fuel this mission, she has led storytelling workshops for moms that struggled in the perinatal period.


Solo performers present real-life, empowering stories. Transformative experiences for audiences. A theater of resilience that celebrates overcoming mental and physical life challenges and offers hope and inspiration. SOLO ARTS HEAL includes excerpts, talkbacks, and Q&A that provide education and advocacy. Readings or clips of performances will be shared by artists in conversation with Gail Schickele, whose work as a manager and producer of solo artists inspired collaboration of performing arts presenters with artists on a medical track based on their personal experience. The collective creative vision? To help communities through educational outreach and the healing power of the Arts. 

About the Host

Gail Schickele (Host) champions arts & sciences taking her left and right brain wherever she travels. As an arts manager, consultant, and producer dba SAGE Artists, she convened an ‘Arts Heals’ group of solo artists at APAP 2020 whose unique stories of physical and mental challenges evince the healing power of The Arts.  The COVID lockdown inspired Stephanie Weisman to create SOLO ARTS HEAL to share these outstanding stories of resilience, dramatic and comedic, for the entertainment and benefit of communities everywhere. Gail’s expertise in marketing, management, booking and production has served various theaters, festivals and events nationwide. Trained as a journalist in New York and Colorado, Gail has covered Colorado state politics and the environmental landscape of the Rockies. Environmental science inspires her educational and advocacy work in California with Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project, and for the League of Women Voters for which she’s worked as an administrator and reporter on environmental issues Including legislation, climate science outreach, and co-chair of an environmental speakers series. Gail is honored to host SOLO ARTS HEAL where artists powerful stories offer audiences great performance and ‘informance’ on issues related to health and the environment, inexorably linked.

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