FRANK SHEPARD'S MEETING WITH THE BOTTLE MONOLOGUE FROM THE PLAY "ONLY GOD CAN CHANGE ME".
Working in the arts for over 20 years, I am blessed to have met art lovers from all over the world—people from very different and diverse social, cultural, and racial backgrounds. People appreciate the arts in different ways. We all have different tastes in movies, plays, music, visual art, etc., and the way they make us feel can be pretty emotional. We bond with others over a great movie or a song, and it brings us closer—sometimes to people we think we had nothing in common with. So…people interpret the arts differently, but the commonalities in our enjoyment or our emotional reaction bring us closer. We create community, and within that community, it’s possible to break down walls, and to heal the sore spots that may have sprung up during our earlier lives. In describing the play’s purpose and my own hopes for it in the communities that will be watching it, I thought it might make sense to start out with a statement of our mission for Solomonrain Presents:
Bringing people together to create! Creating art within and across disciplines— and creating more of what makes community so special.
The words and phrases within our mission statement arose from the idea that not only can art bring communities together, but that art is part of the essence of community itself. Every song sung, every flag raised, our buildings and sculptures, and our gardens and parks reflect the creativity, thoughts, and beliefs of the people that live in that community. Art can be a balm to help people and communities heal. Through our art works, Solomonrain Presents seeks to bring messages of inclusion, understanding, acceptance, and faith. We believe that art works can bring people together that would not necessarily come together otherwise.
Having grown up in a family with members who suffered from the disease of addiction, I wanted to write a play that shows what life can be like when dealing with addiction. I’ve been working on this play, “Only God Can Change Me,” for 15 years. And while it’s morphed over the years into what it looks like today, it still has that common thread running through it—how the disease of addiction can take over a person’s life and how faith and personal strength can help ease the burden that the disease casts over the addicted and their family. But the strength of others in the family helps to change things—some changes are expected and some are not. It’s about the miracle of faith, but it’s not a preachy play. I hope that the play can be shared by communities all over the country and that it can help people, however they need help. Maybe, by providing a perspective to those who suffer because someone they love is an alcoholic or addict. Maybe, it will help by showing people that you can draw strength from faith in a higher power without being a “Bible Thumper and introduce God's Grace.” And, maybe, showing people who are addicts themselves that there is another way to live and that giving yourself over to a higher power isn’t a show of weakness, but a show of great strength. So, “Only God Can Change Me” uses art to help bring awareness of the Opioid epidemic, which has plagued communities across the country, and really, many places around the world. Over the past decade, the Opioid crisis has been called the worst drug crisis in history, rivaling the AIDS epidemic in its death toll. The use of synthetic pain medications, prescription pain killers, and heroin has escalated so much over the past two decades. It has crept from the cores of major cities to affluent suburbs, and even to remote farming communities. There are few places in this country that have not been impacted by this problem. Like no other type of drug, Opioid use rips at the fabric of communities, destroying family ties and cutting young lives short.
Below are some statistics that are both staggering, and depressing.
But recognizing the nature of the problem does not eliminate it. Many of those with the severest drug or mental health problems (or both) are still behind bars, another step removed from getting the help they need. The problem is a community issue, and it’s not going away. People have different ways of dealing with problems in their lives, and sometimes sharing our pain with others helps us to deal with it, and allows it to dissipate. Many, many people get comfort from support groups and therapy sessions. As I said, as a writer and theater person, I was drawn to this issue because of my personal experience with addiction, and I have been working on this play for 15 years. It is definitely my way to try and help address the issue of addiction with the community. Some people can relate to numbers, some to music, and some to the written word. The play brings the issue of addiction to audiences through music and drama. I hope that it can help people see how big and destructive Opioid addiction is and it helps them to reflect in the power of faith and the forgiveness of the universe, once people start making the right choices.