Friday, July 14, 2006

Production on Substance Abuse

Last Friday, CAST Canada held a full day training session for front-line workers in Burlington. CAST (Clean And Sober Thinking) is run by Tom Regehr, who focuses on delivering key messages to professionals in the addiction field. Tom also runs support groups for many addicts at any stage of recovery. For his training session in Burlington, Tom invited Draft Theatre to do a talk-back theatre piece to engage the participants to ask the questions they need to learn the answers to.

The morning consisted of an educational session on the stages of change by recently-turned 10year AA, Murray. Tom followed him with an activity to grasp the feeling of truly being disenfranchised.

The afternoon consisted of Draft Theatre's first production! We had the audience sit in a U-shape and had the four actors nearly complete the U with their chairs. After an introduction by the facilitator (me) explaining the process of the show, the actors sat and told their stories of the night before.

The audience then had a chance to ask questions of them, delving into their complex histories. The audience questioned the lifestyles, homes, jobs, drug use, triggers, beginnings of substance use, present situation, future plans... The audience was free to guide their conversation with the characters to explore the questions that they particularly needed to find the answers for. I think that it is this conversation and interaction that is beneficial for the audience, and where much of the learning takes place. Next time, I'm toying with the idea of making the script even shorter, with less information, so the audience needs to engage in that relationship still further.

The actors were Jessica Moss (currently acting in the Fringe Festival's Rejection Rate), Garth Sherriff, Alex --- and Danielle Szlawieniec-Haw.

To follow: More and more research on my part. I have interviews lined up with front-line workers and with addicts at all stages of recovery.

The next CAST Canada/Draft Theatre workshop will be in Guelph on August 18th. The format will combine the "talk-back" theatre piece with a live panel of addicts in maintenance.

No comments: