Cincinnati group performs play focusing on teen issues
HUNTINGTON — When looking for just the right play for the Cincinnati-based theater group Mishpachah more than 20 years ago, Terri Hopton found inspiration just by looking at the world around her.
“We read through play after play, and I didn’t feel like any of them really hit the right note,” said Hopton, executive director of the group. “I wanted something that was realistic, and we did research and learned suicide was the second biggest cause of death in teens. The problem was people are uncomfortable to talk about it, and we decided we needed to make people uncomfortable. We decided to work on our own story.”
That story has turned into “Dead Serious,” a show that focuses on a broad range of issues teenagers face including suicide, sex, religion, drugs, alcohol and abortion, Hopton said.
Hopton and the cast of “Dead Serious” brought the original performance to Spring Valley High School this weekend.
The show has been performed nationwide since it was written in 1989, and much of the storyline has stayed the same, Hopton tries to keep the play in line with current events.
“We want the story always to really touch on things that teenagers are talking about,” she said. “The goal is to open their eyes to let them know there are people out there who are willing to help them get through the problems they are facing right now.”
Mishpachah itself is comprised of a group of high school students from the greater Cincinnati area who audition to be part of the group each year. The word “mishpachah” is a Hebrew word meaning “family,” and the group itself is a nonprofit organization.
Since it was written, “Dead Serious” has been performed in more than 20 states throughout the country.
Faye Holmes, 17, of Lincoln Township, Ohio, has been part of the group for four years, and she said she hoped the show made as big of an impact on other teenagers as it did for her when she first saw it.
“I was struggling with depression when I saw the show, and it helped me realize there is reason in my life,” she said. “That was what inspired me to want to be a part of it. It’s fun to be part of the show, but it makes it an even greater experience to think that I might be able to help someone build their life the way this has helped me build mine.”
There will be a second performance of “Dead Serious” at 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 13, at Spring Valley High School. Admission to the show is $9.
Follow Lacie Pierson via Twitter @LaciePiersonHD.