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Midland’s Arlo Welser talks about his journey with mental illness


Arlo Welser only wrote one play as an adult – the other she wrote in second grade.

Although her first work never made it to an elementary school stage, the one she wrote recently won Best One-Act Play at Creative 360’s annual Art Speaks festival, June 3-4. .

The play, “The Red List”, was based on her and her husband in the dream.

“It takes place a few years in the future. The world is overcrowded and the government has found a way to humanely euthanize people to make room,” said Welser, from Midland. “The idea came from a dream I had.”

Welser played the title character, Charlotte, in the one-act play. Login Loose played Charlotte’s boyfriend, William. Charlotte and William both signed up for the government program, but throughout the play’s dialogue, Charlotte changed her mind in a heartbreaking turn of events.

“My character chickened out – and it did,” she said.

The characters were all working through this ethical dilemma.

In addition to the main characters of Charlotte and William, Welser presented different perspectives, including a politician, a grandfather, and an editor.

The plot had audiences on the edge of their chairs and tears were shed when it was revealed that the government program was not all it had been advertised to be. By the time the truth was revealed, several people had already made the choice to be euthanized.

Welser’s one-act play won him a prize of $100. She was happy with the outcome of her one-act play at this year’s Art Speaks festival.

“It was really good; I was thrilled to be able to participate,” she said. “I don’t really believe in my ability to make art, but it strengthened my belief.”

A 2015 Dow High graduate, Welser is just a few classes away from completing a bachelor of science degree in psychology from Central Michigan University.

“I took time off here and there because I struggle with mental illness,” Welser said.

When she performed on “The Red List,” Welser wore a short-sleeved shirt, revealing multiple scars on her arms. She confided in her journey.

“I struggle with pretty severe depression, panic disorder, and a personality disorder,” she said. “I have been self-harming since 2013. It’s been a long time, I have a lot of scars. I learned better not to hide myself.

Welser has worked in the Creative 360 ​​office since 2018. She discovered the nonprofit, which focuses on community arts and wellbeing, through her mother, Carol Rumba, who was executive director of the organization from 2014 to 2019.

“I love the environment, inclusivity, community and creativity,” Welser said.

Welser shared more about his trip.

“I struggled with anxiety growing up. In 2011 my grandmother passed away and that triggered a depression that never really left me,” she said. I’ve come a long way. I’ve tried a lot of pharmaceuticals. I’ve been through inpatient residential treatment and an outpatient program. And I do a lot of art – photography and painting.

Welser’s family is part of his support network. Rumba is retired while Welser’s father, Mark Turpin, is a sound and light engineer for theaters. Her husband, Nolan Welser, works for Midland Public Schools. She also has a cat named Clamp and a turtle named Crush.

In addition to photography and painting, she enjoys writing and participating in theatre. This summer, she starred in “The Mousetrap,” performed by Hath Summer Players. She played the role of Mrs. Boyle.

Last fall, she was in “Men on Boats” at the Midland Center for the Arts. She played the role of Bradley.

“It was a piece that explored the Grand Canyon with John Powell,” she said. “These are people who are left out of history.”

Welser also loves dinosaurs. On July 30, she and her husband left for California, where they visited Jurassic World at Universal Studios Hollywood. They also visited La Brea Tar Pits and Museum.

“I’m a big Jurassic Park fan – a big dinosaur fan,” she said.

For those who may also struggle, she has a message.

“Keep working on your health, keep fighting,” she said. “Keep fighting. Even when the days are dark, find the little bursts of light. You are loved and you are worthy.

For anyone dealing with a mental health emergency, Midland County Community Mental Health has a toll-free crisis hotline at 1-800-317-0708. The organization can also be contacted at 989-631-2320.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-8255 or by dialing 988.