Bright lights. Behind the curtains.
The anticipation, the drama! Theatre.
The romance of the theatre exists to this day, and without the ability to try again 150 times, a privilege many Hollywood stars enjoy, we often get to see raw and “unprocessed” emotional deliveries on topics we often struggle to adequately describe to even ourselves. Acting is a gateway, some believe, or rather a looking glass, into the very essence of someone or an experience they’ve had. The expression on an actor’s face when delivering a powerful monologue, or their posture when engaged in dialogue with another, deliver to us a profound emotional understanding of deep-seated problems such as alcoholism, addiction, and recovery.
Addiction has been the influence of many stories, plays, movies, and entertainment in general, for a very long time. In fact, the hardships of managing our lives while craving for alcohol or another addictive behaviour or substance have made for some of the most real and awe-inspiring plays of all, but only relatively recently have the topics of gaining sobriety, or “recovering” become a focus for some of the most talented playwrights and producers. Indeed, we can only imagine how difficult it must be to capture an evolving process that involves self-reflection, secrets, sacrifice, and slow but steady progress. How can one even begin to relay this in only a few hours and keep an audience engaged? How can you capture months or years worth of struggle in such a small window of time? Well, I have no idea! I don’t write plays, stories or movie scripts! But much more talented individuals do, and it could be some of the most ambitious of these folks that deliver us a truly engaging experience outlining the hardship, happiness, dark emotions, and satisfaction of a lifelong struggle to remain off the sauce, powder, or addiction of choice.
Recovery is being showcased in theatre, but was part of the reason it wasn’t before, due to the fact that sobering up was such a private affair? Probably. It was one thing to have a problem, but quite another to be admitting that openly, acknowledging it, and doing something about it. Indeed, there are many reasons why the idea of recovering from addiction was left out of platforms, but perhaps the biggest takeaway from this new trend is the positive impact it will have. Recovery organizations are now featured in some plays and those productions are winning incredible awards and gaining massive recognition, such as “Water by the Spoonful” which won the Pulitzer Prize for drama only 7 years ago.
With these new notions being openly explored in the world of drama, we are getting amazing glimpses into the human spirit and grappling with such subjective, but powerful, notions of helplessness, anticipating the future and avoiding our old lives that offered comfort, sadness and endless self-doubt. These concepts are ones we all share, whether addicted to something or not, and to see them come to life right before our eyes may remind us that we are not alone in our struggles, but that the feelings we experience are very real not just to us, but to millions of others around the world. Until now, we just struggled to express it, but with amazing artists and actors, we are getting a glimpse into the unfathomable.