I’ve said it before; ART HEALS. I saw a play this past November that addresses the issue of teen suicide and depression. Sounds like an uplifting night of theatre, eh? Well, it was and is. Eric and Elliot by Dwayne Hartford, produced by Roanoke Children’s Theatre and presented at Radford High School, Radford, VA on Jan. 17, at 7pm is a perfect example of a play that balances a message with entertainment value.
As a playwright I appreciate this.
I also appreciate that despite the fact that my son, Dante Piro was in it playing the troubled teen, (I had stayed away from rehearsals to avoid the label “Stage Mom”) the first time I encountered the play was it’s first production at Hidden Valley High School in Roanoke. I was impressed by Hartford’s ability to intertwine message with art. I was even more impressed by my son’s portrayal–so much so that I had to remind myself that was my son as his portrayal was so committed.
I decided my home town of Radford and the surrounding New River Valley needed this message. I approached the high school principal, and superintendent. It was made clear that there wasn’t money for the project. But I found out that Roanoke Children’s Theatre was only charging $600. “That’s raisable”, I thought. And so it was. Thanks to a generous donation from Diva’s of the New River Valley, and wonderful caring citizens of the NRV, I raised nearly $1000 to pay for the show and to help with promotion and publicity. This is what community engagement is.
Art can heal. Art does heal. Art reflects humanity. Dante said in the interview today (and I paraphrase), “You can google statistics, but this play, this story will stick with you in a different way. Kids who use to joke about suicide won’t be able to after seeing this. It’s not to be taken lightly.”