Western Pennsylvania has been hit hard by the opioid epidemic, with overdoses claiming lives at an alarming rate. A Pittsburgh program, called Saltworks Theater Company, is working to intervene early and get kids to stay away from drugs by going into schools with their message.
The play, "Off Script," is theater with a message: Prescription drugs can lead to addiction or death.
"The show is about three teenagers. Three very different teenagers. We have sort of an athlete, and overachiever, and sort of a party animal. And they're three different journeys to the same place, which is a recovery support group because they have all become addicted to drugs," said Rachel Smith, the show's director.
The actors said they can see from the stage the impact the show is having on the students.
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"Some of them sit in the audience, and they feel like they're too cool for it. They're sitting there joking with their friends, or they're glued to their cellphone. But for every one of those students, we had one come up to us after the show and talk to us and say how much they appreciated it, how much they were impacted by the show, or even sharing personal experiences with us," said Andy Hickly, an actor who toured with the production.
Saltworks Theater Company organizers said they believe the show's different format is more effective than a typical assembly.
"It's not like a speaker. It's not like a pamphlet. It's not like a brochure. It's like watching your life on the stage in front of you," said Norma Alrutz, Saltworks' executive director.
Saltworks Theater Company does a variety of shows, with topics ranging from bullying and cyber bullying to what the evolution of an addict looks like. For more information, visit http://www.saltworks.org/.
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