Surviving Samsara is a multimedia multidisciplinary live theatrical
production that incorporates acting, spoken word, music, and audiovisuals. Surviving Samsara recounts the artist Kagan Goh’s struggles with manic depression. This story takes place over two decades as Kagan struggles to survive the highs of mania and lows of depression. As a survivor, Kagan gives us insight into an ‘insider’s’ experience of madness. He exposes the damaging effects of the stigma of mental illness, and explores manic depression not only as a disorder, but as a spiritual emergence—a vehicle for personal growth, healing and transcendence. Kagan’s deeply personal stories illustrate his transformation from victim to survivor to activist.
Created by artist Kagan Goh based on his personal struggles with manic depression, this work breaks the taboo of silence about mental illness. Surviving Samsara traces his unique journey towards recovery, acceptance and unconditional self-love.
The goal of this project is to raise awareness and educate the public about mental health issues and combat the societal stigma, prejudice and discrimination against people with mental health challenges. Through this work, Kagan hopes his personal journey of recovery will be a truly transformative experience that will inspire audiences to find courage and hope in their own journeys towards recovery.
Central to Kagan’s artistic work is a desire to humanize the struggles of those with mental health challenges, and to fight stigmas that hold them back. As a form of self-therapy, Kagan started writing and sharing his stories about his experiences of living with a mental illness and has found a receptive audience in Vancouver’s literary community since 1998. He is an established spoken word poet who has performed at open mics, readings, festivals, and on radio.
Kagan has been performing at venues and events in Vancouver for over 20 years, such as the Vancouver International Storytelling Festival, Rain City Chronicles and CBC Poetry Face-Off. Each performance has elicited enthusiastic responses from audiences. People walk away from his readings saying they have been transformed by his stories and feel more connected and less alone.
In the honest telling of his own struggles and triumphs over the years, he gives encouragement, inspiration and hope to those encountering similar issues. In particular, he inspires other artists with comparable challenges, showing how art can heal and empower. He offers families, friends and loved ones a sense of shared experience in a conversation too-often shrouded in silence and shame.