Nov. 14, 2012 - Issue #891: Heap and Pebble
Now, hear them out. This isn't a preachy, after-school-special-type story. The play follows the turbulent relationship between 16-year-old Trent and his father Jeff as Trent begins using and selling marijuana. Trying to mediate the troubled duo is Rayzee, a youth-care worker who was once an addict. The poignant, thought-provoking drama allows teens to get a glimpse inside the emotional turmoil and destruction that marijuana can cause, portrayed from three distinct points of view. The story does not come to a concrete solution or conclusion, leaving it up to viewers to think long and hard about what the best path would really be.
Director Mieko Ouchi, who played Rayzee in the original Alberta performances in 2008, says teens, teachers and parents alike have gravitated to the show in a way that has been beyond her expectations. She anticipated teachers in particular to be nervous about discussing drugs in schools, but found Smokescreen opened the floodgates for positive discussion amongst their students.
"They're dealing with it all the time and they actually welcomed the play as an opportunity to open up discussion about it and in a way that it wasn't about kids in their school," Ouchi notes, adding that the show will be toured to a fresh group of junior high students in the city throughout November in addition to the public performances, which she strongly encourages parents to see with their teens.
Presenting timely information about marijuana use through theatre, rather than a lecture or pamphlet that students might not engage with, can create an innovative way to prompt dialogue between teens and share insights they may not have considered.
"It really allows them to kind of walk in the shoes of another person and kind of understand those issues in a more emotionally connected way, and I think that's the great power of theatre," Ouchi adds, noting the support Smokescreen has received from Alberta Health Service's Youth Addiction Centre.
The push for legalization and issues surrounding marijuana remain commonplace in today's society, and Ouchi says a story like Smokescreen can be an effective way to reach teens before they encounter a problem with the drug and get in over their heads.
"I think, despite those questions around legalization, there's still those core issues around addiction that will go on probably forever as a topic of conversation and hopefully discussion, because anything can be done in moderation to a degree, like alcohol can be used legally and in moderation and not become a problem," she says. "A lot of those advocates are saying marijuana can be used that way too, but almost anything can become an addiction."
Fri, Nov 16 (1 pm and 7:30 pm)
Sat, Nov 17 (2 pm and 7:30 pm)
Directed by Mieko Ouchi
C103 (formerly Catalyst Theatre),
$16 – $19
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