Meth: An innovative addiction prevention project

David Diamond, DLitt (Hon)

Reprinted from "First Responders for Young People" issue of Visions Journal, 2006, 3 (2), p. 24

Vancouver’s Headlines Theatre is producing an innovative touring production about addiction called Meth. The play will be created at the Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre in November of 2006. It will be performed at the Japanese Hall from November 29 to December 10. The production will then tour up to 28 communities around British Columbia during January and February of 2007. Everywhere the play is performed on the tour, it will be supported by teams of counsellors.

The project is designed to stimulate community dialogue that seeks grassroots solutions to addiction issues. As requested by many of the community members with whom we have consulted, addiction will be dealt with as a health issue—not a justice issue.

Meth will be created and performed by youth and adults who have struggled with crystal methamphetamine addiction. Over the course of a six-day Theatre for Living workshop, participants take part in games and exercises that help them explore issues at a deep level. They then create plays. These plays are the basis for the single play developed for performance.

Meth will be audience interactive, in the form of forum theatre. Forum theatre provides an opportunity for creative, community-based discussion. The story of the play builds to a crisis and stops, offering no solutions. The play is performed once, all the way through, so the audience can see the situation and the problems that arise. The play is then run again, with audience members able to “freeze” the action at any point where they see a character engaged in a struggle. An audience member yells “stop,” comes into the playing area, replaces the struggling character and tries out a new idea. This is called an “intervention.” The process is fun, profound, entertaining and full of surprises—and learning.

The Meth project has the potential to be very powerful in the community because the process digs underneath symptoms to get at root causes. It will explore family and relationships and the tiny moments in our lives that lead us to addictive behaviour. Because it is theatre, it does this at a symbolic, metaphoric level—the level at which humans articulate thought and feeling, which lead to action.

 
About the author
David is Artistic and Managing Director, and Joker, at Headlines Theatre in Vancouver.
 
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