In an upcoming event, Phoenix House, its partners and acclaimed actors will use Euripides’ Bacchae, a 2500-year-old Greek play about the destructive power of intoxication, to explore the timeless struggle of addiction.
Phoenix House is partnering with the Partnership at Drugfree.org and social impact company Outside the Wire to create the “Dionysus Project”—an event that will bring Bacchae to life through readings and discussions that break down the stigma of addiction. Actors Tate Ellington (“The Good Wife”), Michael Stahl-David (“Cloverfield”) and Keith David (“Crash,” “Requiem for a Dream”) will present readings from the play, which tells how a frenzy of intoxication leads to the tragic downfall of a single family over the course of one day.
After the readings, the audience will engage in a dialogue that examines our assumptions about addiction, looks at the relationship between intoxication and creativity, and explores the resources communities can use to tackle addiction today. The goal is to break down the stigma surrounding addiction and promote healthy discussion, compassion and understanding around an issue that affected both ancient communities and ours today. Panelists for the dialogue include bestselling author and actress Melissa Gilbert, actor Rob Belushi, UCLA Research Psychologist Rachel Gonzales-Castaneda, author Dan Fante, and former musician Peter Stuart.
Steve Pasierb, President and CEO of The Partnership at Drugfree.org, said he hopes the event–held in one of the country’s most artistic communities–will facilitate a conversation about substance abuse and creativity: “The goal of ‘The Dionysus Project’ is to educate and engage participants so that they can examine their own attitudes, or even biases, toward people struggling with addiction.” Howard Meitiner, President and CEO of Phoenix House, says Bacchae “provides the perfect opportunity to discuss the public perception of substance abuse.”
Bryan Doerries, Artistic Director of Outside the Wire, will translate, direct and facilitate the event. Doerries says the Dionysus Project brings a message of hope: “You are not alone in your community. You are not alone across the country and the world. You are not alone across time.”
Two debut performances will take place on September 6, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. The event is free and open to the public but reservations are encouraged. To RSVP, email Sept6event@phoenixhouse.org or call (818) 686-3025. Please send your name, time of the performance you plan to attend, and the number of people in your group. Additional information can be found at DrugFree.org.