News Post

Scenes of recovery
Scenes of recovery
Theater troupe relates authentic stories of substance abuse

Campus Life

The Improbable Players visited campus on Jan. 22 to perform its 45-minute play titled “Running on E,” which was followed by a Q&A with students in Madeira Hall.

Improbable Players is a nonprofit based in Watertown, Mass., that uses theater to address issues like addiction, alcoholism, and the opioid epidemic.

“We chose Improbable Players because they offer a unique means of presenting and addressing the topic of substance use, and all of the actors have lived through addiction and are in recovery,” Director of Counseling Dr. Jeff Goldman said. “The students recognize that they aren't professional actors, they're real people who've been through addiction and want to do something positive to help others avoid the same problems.”

The mission of The Improbable Players is to educate the public about addiction and recovery through dramatic performances and theater workshops to help people recognize situations in their own lives and seek the help they need.

The performance and Q&A were part of the week’s Community Life Program and were followed by Advisory meetings.

“As part of the Community Life Program, we regularly seek to broker conversations about substance use and abuse,” Dean of Academics Christopher Shaw said. “It seemed appropriate to have a schoolwide experience that made use of theater and featured the experiences of recovering addicts and then move Advisory to take place afterwards to enable small-group discussion among teachers and students.”

Shaw said he hoped hearing the recovery stories of The Improbable Players would give students “a different voice, from a different kind of ‘expert.’”

“My students found that hearing from young people, who had recently been where our kids are now, reflecting on a series of familiar decisions to ‘try’ a drug ended up derailing their plans in a major way,” Shaw said. “These addicts were in recovery, which my kids found was a positive and compelling message.”

“The Q&A is such a genuine experience with these people because they're not lecturing to the students, they're just sharing their experiences with them, and our hope is that students will hear their message better as a result,” added Dr. Goldman.