A new play about addiction, recovery and the opioid crisis will hit the stage at the Universalist Unitarian Meeting of Southern Berkshire in downtown Housatonic on March 28.
The play, “You Are Not Alone,” written by Berkshire native Patrick Toole, will take audience members through the difficulties of a group of people recovering from drug addiction. It’s based on moments Toole experienced as well as some moments courtesy of close friends.
The production will be performed by theater company Emergent Ensemble. Toole, who co-founded the group, will direct and perform in the show alongside the cast, which includes: Gregory Boover, Maizy Broderick Scarpa, Brittany Nicholson, Glenn Barrett, Christopher Brophy, Sally McCarthy, Adam Boshe and Ashley Yang Thompson.
“There’s something about a recovery community; it’s this weird, underground world that I didn’t know existed and it’s huge. It’s in every town in America,” said Toole. “These are really important stories to tell as we battle with this epidemic of opioid-related deaths in America.”
The play hones in on the lives of George and Sydney, who are both in recovery from addiction to heroin. While George, played by Boover, and Sydney, played by Broderick Scarpa, are getting to know one another and become romantically involved, they also get to know the recovery community, which includes, a group of homeless people, an active user and a mother of an addict.
While there are some intensely serious moments, there’s also quite a bit of levity, as well, said Broderick Scarpa. In fact, there’s even some singing and dancing.
“We hear stories about addiction all the time, but we don’t hear the whole story. That’s what You Are Not Alone does,” she said. “It picks up where a lot of stories end.”
Through the humorous moments is also a need to address the stigma of addiction. The need, according to Broderick Scarpa, is urgent. The more that stigma is perpetuated, the higher the barriers to sobriety grow, she said.
From 2000 to 2017, 221 people overdosed on opioids and died in Berkshire County, according to a report posted in February from the Massachusetts Department of Health. For the same period, Middlesex County experienced 2,913 opioid-related overdose deaths. The report also shows that 15,822 people died from opioids throughout the entire commonwealth that year.
“The tension in the play,” Barrett explained, “Comes from the fact that some of the characters are going through hell. Some of them might not make it. That’s the truth of this disease; some people don’t make it. As a matter of fact most people don’t.”
Part of the message of the play is the idea of community and how it aids in recovery and healing and serves as a refuge, said Boover.
This is the second production Emergent Ensemble has performed. The first, “The Aliens,” was written by Annie Baker and performed in a Housatonic tunnel in 2010. Toole and Broderick Scarpa co-founded the company as artists has been to create theater that is accessible to all in our community, both monetarily and in terms of subject matter, that illuminates and bolsters the community as a whole.
Emergent Ensemble used crowdsourcing platform IndieGoGo to raise money for the production. In 20 days, the ensemble shattered their goal and raised approximately $9,000 from more than 100 people.
“Stories heal and hearing is healing, in my honest opinion,” said Boover. “I hope people come and see You Are Not Alone.”
You Are Not Alone will be presented at the Unitarian Universalist Meeting of Southern Berkshire in Housatonic, 1089 Main St. from March 28 through April 6 in performances on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m.
The show is free, but a suggested donation of $15 will be welcomed. Reservations can be made by calling 413-213-2424.
For more information about Emergent Ensemble, visit facebook.com/emergentensemble.