All four actors featured in a powerful production on opioid addiction being staged at the Orpheum Theater next week are themselves in long-term recovery.
The show, titled “The End of the Line,” is jointly sponsored by the Rotary clubs of Foxboro, Sharon and Mansfield, Norwood Hospital, Infinity Family Care of Mansfield and the S.A.F.E. Coalition, a regional consortium providing support, education, treatment options and coping mechanisms for those affected by addictions.
The free program, scheduled for Thursday, May 24 at 7 p.m., features the Improbable Players, a 34-year-old theater group, and will be followed by question and answers and various information tables.
“No matter who you are you should seek help,” said Andy Short, co-director of Improbable Players, who work to raise awareness about addiction and recovery through dramatic performances and theater workshops.
Shahjehan Khan has been an actor with the company since 2014, when he was in recovery.
“I had heard of them through various recovery circles in the greater Boston area when I was first getting clean and sober,” he said. “I auditioned for Lynn Bratley (founder and former executive director) during the summer of 2014 and was hired later that year.”
In particular, Khan said the group seeks to de-stigmatize substance use disorder.
“People have tended to shy away from open and honest conversations about drug use because of the shame and seeming hopelessness associated with it,” he said. “But the fact is most of us will at some point know someone, love someone, or care from someone that struggles with this disease.”
Improbable Players has helped him feel that his own story of recovery can make an impact on someone’s life who might be struggling to get help.
“I truly feel like I have been given a second chance at life and am proud to be able to share that with thousands of people every year,” Khan said.
Mary Graham-Louise, a registered nurse who serves on the S.A.F.E. Coalition board and is president-elect of Foxboro Rotary, hopes the May 24 production will help raise awareness surrounding the opiate epidemic.
“We are in the midst of a nationwide crisis and it is here, in our communities. We need to start the conversations with our youth and families about opiate and their dangers,” she said.
“We need to emphasize that this is a disease and those suffering from substance use disorder and their families and friends don’t have to navigate a road to recovery alone.”
Dr. Wendy Cohen, co-founder of Infinity Family Care and a S.A.F.E. Coalition board member, said the opioid epidemic is terrifying to many parents.
We at the S.A.F.E. Coalition really hope to break through this mentality so that all parents know how to talk with their kids, what to watch for and where to turn for help if they think their child is struggling,” Cohen said.
Cohen also said the coalition strives to reduce the stigma of addiction, which prevents people from seeking help and hinders evidence-based prevention education in local communities and schools.
“For me, the goal in volunteering with SAFE is to help people suffering from this disease feel more supported, less alone; that fewer people will have to worry nightly that their child, sibling, spouse, parent or friend may lose their life to this,” Cohen said.
The coalition was formed in 2015 in response to an increase in opioid overdose-related fatalities, according to James Derick, the organization’s president.
“The Improbable Players offer an opportunity for our community to engage in conversation about substance use disorder and in particular, opioids,” Derick said. “The hope is that this event will shed further light on why people start abusing opioids and the nature of addiction to this and other substances.”
To reserve a free ticket visit facebook.com/safecoalitionma.