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'Dionysus Project' features actors performing dramatic readings on addiction

April 11, 2012
by News release
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The Partnership at Drugfree.org and Outside the Wire are collaborating to present a series of dramatic readings and town hall discussions about the disease of addiction. Supported by a generous grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, "The Dionysus Project" will tour to three communities that have been profoundly impacted by drug abuse and addiction, beginning in Appalachia (Manchester and Hazard in Kentucky) and moving to the West Coast (Los Angeles)

Audiences will observe actors such as Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network) and Adam Driver (HBO's Girls) in Kentucky, and other acclaimed actors (TBA) in Los Angeles performing readings of scenes from Euripides' Bacchae, an ancient Greek play about the destructive power of intoxication.

The presentation serves as a catalyst for town hall discussions on the impact of substance abuse and addiction upon individuals, families and communities that have been affected by drugs and alcohol. The reading/discussion format is intended to break down the stigma associated with substance abuse and addiction and promote healthy dialogue among diverse communities - public and professional - fostering compassion, cooperation and understanding.

"We are honored to team up with Outside the Wire, an organization that has found great success in pairing theatrical events with pressing public health issues," says Steve Pasierb, President and CEO of The Partnership at Drugfree.org. "Our goal is to educate and engage participants so that they can examine their own attitudes, or even biases, toward young people struggling with addiction. We are confident that this event, part of our community education efforts, will facilitate much-needed conversation around the myths and misunderstanding that surround substance abuse. We are grateful for the grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation that will make this unique event possible."

The project uses an ancient Greek tragedy, written nearly 2,500 years ago, to engage audiences in crucial discussions about the timelessness of the human struggle with substance abuse and addiction, as well as resources and solutions that communities can utilize today.

"We are thrilled to be collaborating with The Partnership at Drugfree.org on this groundbreaking effort to engage communities across the United States in crucial dialogue about substance abuse and addiction," says Bryan Doerries, Outside the Wire's Artistic Director. "By presenting scenes from a nearly 2500-year-old play about Dionysus, the ancient Greek god of intoxication, our hope is to create a safe space for open discussions about these timeless issues, while connecting audiences with available resources and action steps toward prevention, treatment, and healing. The core message of 'The Dionysus Project' is: You are not alone in your community. You are not alone across the country and the world. You are not alone across time."

"This is an original approach to addressing drug abuse and addiction as it affects young adults and their families," said the Board of the Directors at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation. "We believe this project will make an impact in educating and raising awareness of social welfare issues, as well as Hellenic culture and how it relates to modern day matters."

The Kentucky readings and town hall discussions will focus on abuse of prescription medicine - an issue that prominently affects this area - and will take place on May 3, 2012 in collaboration with Operation Unite, a nonprofit organization aimed at combating substance abuse in Kentucky. The Los Angeles event will address the link between creativity, intoxication and substance abuse and will be held in partnership with Phoenix House, a nonprofit substance abuse service organization serving the LA area. The date of the Los Angeles event is to be determined. 



Hats off to Drugfree.org and Outside the Wire for providing an alternative and highly unique and creative method for furthering the conversation and finding potential solutions to this national epidemic.

As the Founder of the REEL Recovery Film Festival, I know that using art to reflect back to us some of these issues is a profound and effective way to shed light beyond statistics and hearsay.

The Greeks and Jungians knew that sometimes it's not best to view a problem straight on, but to lcreate a forum born more out of the muses bag or tricks than a doctors bag of medicine.

Bravo to Sean at Drugfree and Bryan Doerries and Phyllis Kaufman at Outside the Wire.


Leonard Buschel