So much is happening now in New England East, on all the levels of theatre and with many kinds of new work. An exciting new production of This is Treatment, with book, music and lyrics by Elizabeth Addison, will be presented at the Northeastern University beginning March 31. The production is described as a “…musical [which] specifically speaks to the experience of Black and Latinx women (of all hues) with substance use disorder and the process of their recovery and treatment.”
Nine years in the making, Elizabeth Addison offers, “When I began, I didn’t know how to write a song, I didn’t know how to write a play. This is Treatment has been my education. YouTube,” she laughs, “and actually doing, has been my education. That’s how I learned to write musicals.”
She continues, “The work is inspired by my own experience. It’s been about learning how to write and learning how to love all of me, even the past parts that were broken and sad. It’s been a way to learn about doing this thing I have loved since being a kid.”
She hopes the audience will “…feel a sense of healing, to make a journey. The show is immersive. It’s in the round, because we want the audience to feel as though there are in treatment with us, that they are going through all the things the characters go through, and that they have the healing they so desire and deserve by the end. The beautiful thing about theater is that it has the ability to change hearts and minds.”
Says Addison, “Hopefully, through watching the show, the experience that they have witnessed, perhaps now when they look into the world and see people similar to what they saw in This is Treatment, they may think differently about it. That perhaps this will call them to change ‘myself, how I see people struggling,’ particularly Black and brown women who struggle with substance abuse disorder and mental illness, and who have trauma. Perhaps this is something ‘I can do individually, and I change my mind around it, and my perceptions of it. Perhaps I can do something at the organization level.’ That’s why we are having a huge community engagement aspect, because I am trying to build a new model of theatremaking where real community engagement is right next to the piece itself.”
In other news from New England East, John Minigan adds, “Despite that fear that the pandemic would kill interest in new work, some Boston theatres are focused actively on commissioning new short work during the pandemic, and some are continuing to include new full-length work as part of their in-person mainstage seasons.”
Documentary theatre continues to be represented in our area with two recent productions. In Young Nerds of Color at Central Square Theater, “Playwright Melinda Lopez weaves together over 60 interviews with scientists from the most underrepresented backgrounds—with original music by Nona Hendryx—amplifying the rich harmonies, breaking down boundaries and showing us what is possible.” And last November, ONWARD - Votes for Women, created by composer/arranger Adam McDonald and me, was commissioned by the Associates of the Boston Public Library to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment.
In other true-life stories, Melinda Lopez also created Mr. Parent, “A one-man performance based on actor Maurice Emmanuel Parent’s real-life adventures teaching in an urban public school system.”
Additional area shows by area DG writers include the world premiere of Sleeping Weazel’s Everyday Life and Other Odds and Ends by Charlotte Meehan. And in February, it was Senior Living, by Tor Hyams and Lisa St. Lou, presented by Portland Stage Company.
These are but some of the wonderful pieces of theatre happening in our New England East area. Things are looking up for spring and summer 2022!