We are pleased to announce that Addict will return to the Hatboro-Horsham stage on Thursday & Saturday, March 19 & 21, 2015! >> Click here to learn more.
“Be a Part of the Conversation,” Hatboro-Horsham School District’s drug and alcohol awareness program, presented a gritty and realistic story about substance abuse in the form of a play called Addict. The play features 20 students acting in 10 vignettes, each featuring a character who is struggling with a particular substance, such as cocaine, heroin, marijuana, alcohol and prescription drugs.
Hatboro-Horsham theatre students performed the play on the evenings of September 21 and 22, 2012. The several hundred audience members in attendance were not aware that each night, several adolescent patients from Caron Treatment Center were in the audience as well. Adolescent male patients and staff made the 90-minute trip from Caron’s Wernersville campus on Friday night, and adolescent female patients and staff did the same on Saturday. The conversations on the long ride back to Caron, as well as further processing with counselors throughout the week, made it clear to Caron’s treatment professionals that this was an experience they wanted to share with more of their patients and staff.
Taking the Show on the Road
On Saturday, November 17, ten of the twenty students, along with the play’s director, Kristin Hannings and assistant director, Kirsten Cills, made the trek to the Caron Foundation’s main campus in Wernersville, PA. Approximately 230 patients ranging from pre-teens to retirees, indigent to affluent, males and females, alcoholics to heroin addicts, gathered in the auditorium for Caron’s first-ever staging of a play about addiction.
The audience, filled with the entire in-patient population and several members of Caron’s staff, was engaged and respectful. The reaction to some scenes was palpable; at times there was laughter at what must have been familiar scenarios, and at other times there was complete silence as they watched the horrific consequences of substance abuse, undoubtedly scenes that many of them watched play out in reality. One scene in particular evoked a very poignent reaction. As the charcter, “Murph,” described his insatiable craving for opiates, and ultimately heroin, as a result of a lacrosse injury, several of the adolescent and young adult male patients snapped their fingers in a sign of solidarity. We later learned that some of the patients were lacrosse players who had similar experiences.
At the play’s conclusion, the cast gathered at the make-shift stage and were greeted with a sustained standing ovation. The audience was asked if they had any questions or comments for the actors. Several patients commended the Hatboro-Horsham students for their courage and talent. Some said they could relate to several of the characters, and that the portrayals and story lines were incredibly authentic and familiar. The treatment staff escorted the patients back to their respective housing and spent the remainder of the evening processing what they had just experienced, and addressing the inevitable “triggers” to their own substance use. The staff felt this was an important part of their treatment, so that they could confront the memories of drug and alcohol use while in the protective environment of in-patient treatment. The adult men’s group (26 and older) surprisingly spent the most time talking about their experience with the play. Rather than seeing themselves on the stage, they imagined their sons and daughters following in their footsteps, knowing that addiction is often passed on from one generation to the next. They came away with a resolve to get themselves well so that they can be supportive of their children, as well as modeling a healthy recovery.
On June 4, 2013, the Hatboro-Horsham cast and crew were honored with the Caron Foundation’s Community Youth Leadership Award at the treatment center’s annual Awards Breakfast. The play’s director, Kristin Hannings spoke with great emotion about the experience of the intense process of bringing Addict to the stage. Students Thane Madsen and Annie Stafford spoke eloquently on behalf of their cast-mates, sharing with the audience, the play’s tremendous impact on their lives.
Addict Lives On
The long-term impact that the play had on Caron patients and staff may take some time to fully realize. The 20 young actors took great pains to comprehend the complex subject matter and characters they portrayed, resulting in insights that few other experiences could elicit. Other school districts in the surrounding area have expressed an interest in taking on the play. While Addict hits audiences hard with its intense look at the dire consequences of substance abuse, this play is still alive and well and helping to bring awareness and compassion to hundreds of people.