“Visions" has reached 40,000 viewers in nine states with practically no funding and mainly the grit and determination of creator Bob L. and a legion of volunteers (the actors in the play remain anonymous, and most are in recovery). On Thanksgiving week, Nov. 25-Dec. 1, “Visions” will have eight performances Off-Broadway at the Hudson Guild Theatre in Manhattan. Bob says plans are for half of the proceeds from the show (tickets cost $18) to be donated to treatment centers and shelters in the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut area.
The play, which Bob started writing with scribbled notes during his breaks as an automotive plant worker, offers vignettes about individuals’ descent into addiction and quest for redemption, largely through the 12 Steps. It is often performed free of charge at addiction treatment centers, correctional facilities and churches. Performances at the Narcotics Anonymous (NA) world convention in Philadelphia at the end of the summer left attendees “mesmerized, and hugging us and weeping after the show,” Bob says.
“We’re not just breaking stigma—we’re breaking denial,” he adds in reference to the play’s impact on the audience. “The people who watch the play are seeing themselves on stage.”
“Visions” started in the early 1990s as a 20-minute script and is consistently being refined; it is now a one-act show of about 75 minutes.
The nonprofit that was formed in conjunction with the play’s creation is eligible to receive grants, but Bob has said in the past that it has received scant attention from funding entities that are preoccupied with evidence-based interventions.