Hollywood and Broadway made a stop in eastern Kentucky Thursday to deliver a powerful message about the dangers of drug abuse. It’s called The Dionysus Project. It’s a unique attempt to boost dialogue in drug ravaged communities.
The project about addiction took center state for the first time in Manchester with another performance later in the day in Hazard.
Four stage and film actors delivered a dramatic reading from an ancient Greek play about the destructive power of intoxication.
"It naturally opens up an avenue to discussing something that might be taboo or private or personal, just by virtue of seeing people emote,” said actor Jesse Eisenberg. Eisenberg is an Oscar nominee for his role in The Social Network.
A Tony nominee was also involved in the project as was Adam Driver, who is in the HBO series, Girls.
The actors believe the ancient drama resonates, delivering a powerful, modern day message. "I think there's nothing more gracious than giving people a platform to express their discomfort,” said Driver.
The abuse of prescription pills is a huge problem sweeping the country, with eastern Kentucky one of the epi-centers of the plague.
"We've lost an entire generation of you people so we're trying to reach the next generation with a more positive message,” said Karen Kelly, President and CEO of Operation Unite, the counter drug task force operating in the region.
"If you can wind up getting a dialogue going between parents and teens you've accomplished quite a bit,” added Mike Townsend. Townsend is with The Partnership at Drugfree.org.
Experts say teens don’t think pills are as dangerous as so called “hard drugs,: but they are often the first opiates in a child’s system. "They're getting an introduction to a heroin like drug and it becomes very addictive, very destructive, very quickly,” Townsend noted.
Considering the magnitude of the problem, getting the message through, even via a play more than two thousand years old, is a welcome effort in this area.
"The average age of first time drug use in eastern Kentucky is age eleven and we're terrified of that so we want to do everything possible to prevent it,” Kelly explained.