Monroe, LA – Northeast Delta Human Services Authority (NEDHSA) and Candy Studio LLC are partnering to produce two showings of “Users/Alky,” a play to educate the public about the dangers and realities of alcohol and substance abuse. The theatrical production is set for May 20-21, with the performances starting at 7 p.m., at the University of Louisiana Monroe Brown’s Theatre. Both shows are free.
The production is part of NEDHSA’s Rise Above Stigma initiative, which aims to help increase access to behavioral health support services, provide mental health awareness, and other culturally and linguistically appropriate training for the twelve parish communities in northeast Louisiana.
NEDHSA Executive Director Dr. Monteic A. Sizer said the agency is reaching out to our citizens in creative, engaging ways, and “this powerful theatrical production is yet another example,”
“We must do different things to educate, engage and inspire the public,” Dr. Sizer said. “We’re helping people in our region to understand addiction and mental health issues with this innovative prevention approach. We want them to understand that all people have value and potential. This production is designed to challenge us, sadden us, and motivate us towards collective action.”
Written by Jerome McDonough, “Users/Alky” portrays the allure and devastating consequences of drug and alcohol abuse. The audience may think addiction “can’t happen to me,” but common addiction impacts become apparent as they experience this convincing and powerful drama. It gives the audience a closer look at a pill pusher, an inhalant abuser, a user of PCP, a marijuana user, a cigarette smoker, and abusers of many other drugs as they tell their stories and show the horrible outcome.
Sizer said the production has adult and youth roles, and young people can explore acting and other theater careers involving lighting, sound engineering, costume design, and staging as they participate.
Candy Studio’s Jerrilyn Profit, an experienced veteran theatrical director, entertainer, and performer in the area, has been chosen as the performance director and producer. She is engaging at-risk youth and young adults in the production, allowing them to learn and develop vocational and life skills through the process of producing a feature-length play.
She said her production studio likes to make its audiences think, “why fit in when you were born to stand out?”
“This production is another thought-provoking experience to help viewers think what would they do in this situation,” Profit said. “These events are real and have happened to real people, and we’re sharing to make the audience resist these temptations.”
NEDHSA’s Rise Above Stigma campaign began in July 2021 and has featured the release of a mobile agency app and, most recently, the reveal of an art mural designed by University of Louisiana Monroe students. The mural will be toured throughout the 12-parish region and is currently hosted at the Northeast Louisiana Delta African American Museum for the month of February for Black History Month.
NEDHSA will soon release a 6-month evaluation report of its Rise Above Stigma initiative that created a foundation for community transformation.
Dr. Sizer added: “Traditional governmental approaches often ignore the power of creative arts as prevention and empowering strategies. We’re incorporating the arts with our work to reach and warn people about the impact of addictions and related negative social determinants of health.”
Profit requests that those who desire to be considered for a speaking part come prepared with a one-minute monologue and be prepared for a cold reading. Headshots are optional. Individuals interested in being extras, stage assistants, stagehands, and ushers should contact the director.