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Inmates At Donovan Prison Write About Addiction In New Play

San Diego State University theatre students are pictured rehearsing, March 13, 2017.
Courtesy of Cecilia Kouma
San Diego State University theatre students are pictured rehearsing, March 13, 2017.

Inmates At Donovan Prison Write About Addiction In New Play
Inmates At Donovan Prison Write About Addiction In New Play GUEST:Cecelia Kouma, executive director, Playwrights Project

Earlier this month the US attorney's office in San Diego announced a major drug trafficking sweep and North County. One of the drugs being trafficked in large quantities was methamphetamine. Authorities say meth related deaths have skyrocketed in recent years and half the adults in San Diego jail tested positive for meth at the time of their arrest. In an effort to stop these rising numbers law enforcement has reached out to artist for a way to tell young people about the devastation meth and drug addiction can cause. So San Diego state theater students will be performing two place about addiction this week. One was written by inmates at Donovan state prison. Joining me is Cecelia executive director of playwrights Project the group involved in facilitating both place walking to the program. Thank you I'm glad to be here. It's not every day that law enforcement looks to the arts to get their message out. The to the and commissioning this first play. San Diego social advocates for youth and the US attorney's office asked us to be a part of the do something about Ms. Campanelli interviewed individuals who have been through drug addiction and incarceration and the San Diego probation department because women working in juvenile hall some they also invited us to interview some of the youth that their facilities and they also brought in some of the men at Donovan. We crafted that into a play. I understand that these are the stories of kids who became entangled with meth and they talk to you about their stories. That's correct there were some heartbreaking stories that we heard from the year. We also spoke with adults who have been impacted as well. The family members and tragic stories there as well. But we captured -- as much as we can educate people and stick by them when they are in this crisis that we can find a solution. We involve the inmates in writing prompts and interviews about the place to help distribute further. They were eager to get their stories out to the youth as well. That helped to work together to create that -- a play that is called finding our way. Finding our way has already been performed at Donovan. Tell us about it. Actors also took place We worked with them and put the plan for an audience of inmates and some of our Board of Directors and sponsors of the rights project the inmates were flabbergasted because they were so impressed by the authenticity the connection it was very moving experience. We have a quote from one of the authors. My dad committed suicide helped me with something that I haven't dealt with and help me deal with it for the first time ever it was a constant pain in my life and I never really got over that other people have written things that I believe in my heart that I believe is true to their lives. They need to stop hurting them in their own lives bringing them down and help them to overcome it. That was Robert Kennedy and inmate at Donovan state prison. He was speaking about how playwriting How have you been in involved? I worked closely with the writers and I helped crafted together very loosely with them a in rehearsals as well and we are finding that this piece does not go here we will take that out and it was very involved. I understand there is a discussion. With these performances After each of the performances we will have a panel of these individuals will talk about the issues including Jason from probation and the warden and community resource manager while ran over from Donovan state prison and say San Diego will have representatives as well as the US attorney's office. I am learning with -- wondering what you have learned. I have always believed us storytelling as a way of healing and when I see it in action as Robert expressed I think that was a remarkable experience for him to get those stories out of his head and put it out there for an audience to identify and connect with that. Also you get to change it. Can fictionalize or create the ending that you want to helps you to resolve it for yourself. People need a chance to play and a chance to connect is an community The performance called living with hope featuring other people's kids and finding our way will take is Thursday through Sunday at the experimental theater at San Diego State performances are free of charge recommendations recommended. Thank you has been a privilege to be here.

The impact of addiction is the subject of two plays that will be performed by San Diego State University theatre students Thursday through Sunday.

One of the plays, "Finding Our Way," was written by inmates at Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility. The inmates are in the Out of the Yard program, which is facilitated by the Playwrights Project.

The play is a series of reflections along the path of addiction.

The second play, "Other People's Kids," is about four youth who try meth.

The executive director of the Playwrights Project, Cecelia Kouma, joined Midday Edition on Tuesday to discuss how the plays came to fruition.

The plays will be performed Thursday to Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Experimental Theatre at SDSU. They will be followed by question and answer sessions. Admission is free, but reservations are recommended. Call (858) 384-2970 or email write@playwrightsproject.org for reservations.