Play Depicts Kids Destroyed By Drugs



Andy Towle/Roundup

Brad Johnson (right) plays ’Cuda, a heroin addict, in the Payson Longhorn Theatre Company’s school play during a recent rehearsal. The play was performed last week.


Andy Towle/Roundup

Junior Kelsey Oakley plays Jimmye, an LSD abuser during “Addict,” the school play that warns students against drug use.


Drug addicts in Payson High School’s play ended up in the “veggie bin” at a chemical abuse hospital wing for children.

It took some time before the LSD that Jimmye took started to warp her mind. “I convinced myself the LSD wasn’t going to take,” she said, wearing footless stockings and bright pink stripes in her hair.

The LSD, which is a hallucinogenic drug, eventually did take and Jimmye, played by Payson High School junior Kelsey Oakley, ended up living on a beach and eating leftover sandwiches “if the dogs didn’t get to it first.”

The play “Addict,” performed by the Payson High School Longhorn Theatre Company last weekend, featured vignettes where students played kids destroyed by drugs.

Janis started out smoking marijuana. Soon, she discovered that the weed became more fun once dipped in PCP, another hallucinogenic. Her parents smoked dope, she said, so the drug was easy to get.

Her mother warned her against PCP, but coming from a drug abuser, the admonition meant little.

After Janis was arrested, she agreed to volunteer in a hospital’s chemical abuse wing for children, where she discovered lifeless addicts living in the “veggie bin.”

Janis, played by Danielle Ippolito, came clean, but eventually suffered hallucinogenic flashbacks and ended up in the chemical abuse wing herself.

Varying scenes explored marijuana use that led to angel dust, heroin and LSD.

“I think it’s realistic,” said Oakley, who researched her drug before committing to character. “I had no idea what LSD was.”

“We fought for years to do this show,” said auditorium manager and PHS graduate Thomas Walling, who also played a character in “Addict.”

“The school board finally said, ‘you know what? This is a big issue,’” Walling said.

Statewide, nearly 11 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds have used illegal drugs in the past month, according to data collected in 2005 and 2006 by a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Nationally, the percentage was nearly 10 percent.

In PHS’s auditorium, students relaxed in folding chairs after the last performance without an audience and listened to director Laura Ritter’s feedback. Ritter graduated from PHS in 2001 and performed in the play when she was in high school. She also had a part in this year’s production.

“I’m not worthy; I’m not worthy,” she congratulated the cast on its fine performance. “So good tonight.”

Then, it was on to business. “If someone misses a line, if someone misses an entrance, you have to act your way out,” Ritter said. She and Walling reminded students that if they could see the audience while standing in the wings, the audience could see them.

Some characters forgot props. “The gun not being there, it was so hilarious,” Ritter said. She suggested working out “an alternate beat-down plan” in case props were absent on a subsequent night, in front of audiences.

“Don’t vomit,” she told ’Cuda, a heroin addict who dies in a dumpster and is played by Brad Johnson.

“You don’t have vomit coming out of your mouth,” Ritter adds. “It looks fake.”

And that night, as PHS students vicariously lived the lives of destroyed teenagers, the wholesome conversation of dramatic drug portrayal was hopefully the closest they’ll come.


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