University of Nevada, Reno's Department of Theatre and Dance will unveil "A Free Man" this week, a new play written by University theatre adviser and lecturer, Sandra Neace.
The play's central character wrestles with opioid addiction, an epidemic that caused nearly 50,000 deaths nationwide last year. With the media and federal government labeling opioid addiction a "public health crisis," the play is a timely response to an addiction that affects thousands of lives.
"‘A Free Man' is about a woman named Carlina who's addicted to opioids and, in her addiction, she sees Elvis Presley everywhere, but she's the only one who can see him," Neace said. "It's her journey with trying to battle her addiction while gaining self-forgiveness and self-acceptance."
Adriano Cabral, assistant professor of theatre and director of the play, said he appreciated that the play portrays the human side of addiction.
"Addiction feels like this far removed thing, but it's something that anyone in any given moment could find themselves in," he said. "That's what I really love about Carlina's story. The fact that it's human. It acknowledges that it's in our backyard."
The theatre program will perform three, staged readings of the play this week. A staged reading is when the cast has their scripts in hand, a move that Cabral said will help the cast focus more on bringing the emotional undertones from the text to the stage.
Cabral noted that this play also is a great opportunity for the students to try their hand at new script development. They have the rare opportunity to work with the playwright on the script, providing suggestions and asking questions.
Cabral said, "It's not just working towards offering a reading of the play, but the process itself is helping actors remember that they have a voice in play development processes."
Neace and Cabral invite the audience to be a part of that reciprocal process as it's their response to the text that will inform future renditions of the play. Neace said she hopes the play will make audiences not only think but come away with creative inspiration.
"I want the audiences to feel like they're not alone," Cabral said, "That we all find the struggle in something, and there is a way out. We are multifaceted, dynamic human beings that experience dark times and moments of light."
Each performance will run for one hour and will be followed by a short Q&A with the playwright, director and actors.
"A Free Man"
When: 7:30 p.m. Sept. 20-22
Where: Redfield Studio Theatre, Church Fine Arts, University of Nevada, Reno
Tickets: Free. (Seating is limited, please reserve your place through the Facebook event listing)
On the web: www.unr.edu/theatre