Two theatre veterans pen hope-filled play with ensemble of local actors and include MTC students in pre-production talkback
Theatre patrons of the Midlands know Dewey Scott-Wiley and Christine Hellman well, but audiences at Harbison Theatre at Midlands Technical College (HT@MTC) will get to know this award-winning team much more intimately during the premiere of their new hope-filled production, Misery is Optional – Recollections of Recovery, on Saturday, February 17, 2018 at 7:30 PM.
This debut work is based on verbatim interviews from people in recovery from alcoholism and drug addiction; it was created as a piece to help describe the throes of addiction and the relief in a new way of life. “There are lots of false assumptions about what addiction is,” says playwright Scott-Wiley. “This piece is a direct reflection of weaving stories together to spread awareness and hope.”
Four actors will depict 45 different characters whose inspiring, sometimes harrowing stories shine a light on a disease that affects 23 million Americans. The writing team spent months conducting interviews and research beginning in June 2017 to tell their stories.
“We are thrilled to host this skilled ensemble on our stage,” said Kristin Cobb, Executive Director of Harbison Theatre at MTC. “Audiences who frequent the Columbia theatre scene will see some familiar faces. These inspiring stories are so unique and moving; the audience is sure to be touched with the message of recovery.”
In addition to the performance, the cast will include an educational component into the debut. The playwrights will speak to MTC students Tuesday, February 13 on the Airport Campus about the researching and writing of the play. English and Humanities students will be educated about writing and creating live theatre, while Social and Behavioral Science students will be taught about the research and reflect on pressing contemporary issues.
“The goal of the theatre is to incorporate art into the academics of the college, and this lecture is a great opportunity for students to also be involved with the programming of HT@MTC,” says Dr. Ronald L. Rhames, President of Midlands Technical College. “We’re grateful to the artists for taking the time to talk with our students, and hope this work can positively affect the lives of many people in the future.”
Misery is Optional is the official 2017-2018 selection for partnership with the HT@MTC Performance Incubator, founded in 2012. The HT@MTC Performance Incubator invites professional performing artists residing in the Midlands to develop new products suitable for touring nationwide that can serve as sustainable sources of revenue in their artistic careers.
“I’m a professional theatre artist living in Columbia, and the Incubator is so unique in how it gives artists the chance to create something that will hopefully have a long life,” said Scott-Wiley. “I knew I wanted to do something with recovery theatre to truly spread the message that the depths of addiction are miserable, but optional.”
Along with Scott-Wiley and Hellman, the play stars Jason Stokes and Arischa Conner Frierson, and also features Heather Hawfield as the set designer. Scott-Wiley, Hellman, Stokes, and Hawfield are all company members at Trustus Theatre Company in Columbia, SC.
Be there when Harbison Theatre at Midlands Technical College and playwrights Dewey Scott-Wiley and Christine Hellman present Misery is Optional – Recollections of Recovery on Saturday, February 17, 2018 at 7:30 PM. Tickets are $24 and can be purchased online at HarbisonTheatre.org or at 803.407.5011.
Individual show tickets and packages are available now at HarbisonTheatre.org. Buyers may also order tickets at 803.407.5011 or at the Harbison Theatre Box Office, Monday through Friday, 9 AM to 4 PM. The box office will open two hours prior to each show.