Keene State College Arts Center to Put Addiction on Stage

Jul 11, 2017

Theater of War at a performance in Boston

The Redfern Arts Center at Keene State College is planning a series of performances that use theater to get at issues around drug and alcohol addiction. Redfern has received $25,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts, which will be used - in part - toward the effort.

The keystone of the series will be a staging of Theater of War's "Addiction Performance Project," which features a dramatic reading of Eugene O'Neill's "Long Day's Journey into Night" followed by a community discussion. O'Neill's play depicts a family struggling with both drug and alcohol abuse.

Shannon Mayers, director of Redfern Arts Center at Keene State College
Credit Courtesy of Keene State College

The performance aims to break down stigmas associated with addiction and enable conversation at the community level. Redfern's Director Shannon Mayers said theater can be a powerful tool for audiences to see a more human side of drug and alcohol abuse. "It creates a safe space -- it's not technical or medical or clinical," she said. "It's incredibly visceral and emotional."

Redfern will also bring Improbable Players, a Boston-based theater group that educates students about addiction and recovery, to local high schools. Improbable Players employs actors in long-term recovery themselves. 

The NEA funds will also go toward other performances exploring culture and identity as part of Redfern's 2017-18 season.