Photo Credit Howard Korn Photo Credit Howard Korn Photo Credit Howard Korn Photo Credit Paxton Winters Photo Credit Doug Baz

Addiction Performance Project

Overview

The Addiction Performance Project presents dramatic readings of Act Three of Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey into Night as a catalyst for town hall discussions about the disease of addiction as it touches patients, families, and health professionals who work in the fields of primary care, nursing, and clinical bioethics.

Each reading is followed by a panel discussion, led by a diverse panel of community experts, culminating in a facilitated town hall discussion about the complex ethical and professional challenges posed by screening for, and treating, patients who are abusing drugs and/or struggling with addiction.

This unique participatory event raises awareness of addiction as a chronic disease, as well as the importance of screening for and addressing substance abuse in advance of the emergence of addiction. The reading/discussion format is intended to break down the stigma associated with addiction and promote healthy dialogue among diverse communities–public and professional–fostering compassion, cooperation, and understanding about patients who are living with the disease of addiction.

The town hall discussion also creates an opportunity for medical providers to examine their own biases toward patients struggling with addiction by empowering these professionals to share their responses to the dramatic portrayal of addiction in O’Neill’s Pulitzer Prize-wining play, as well as to the remarks of community panelists. The event also provides a forum for the dissemination of tools, best practices, and information, including communication and practice management strategies that are useful when dealing with patients struggling with addiction disorders.

Under a contract award from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Outside the Wire is presenting several readings by professional actors of Act Three of Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey into Night at prominent medical conferences, hospitals, and medical schools throughout the United States for audiences comprised of primary care physicians and other medical professionals.

Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey into Night depicts the struggles of Mary Tyrone, a woman who abuses prescription painkillers and relapses into full-blown morphine addiction. It is also the story of how Mary’s addiction rips her family apart, as her morphine use slowly becomes apparent to her husband and two sons. It is widely believed that Long Day’s Journey into Night is an autobiographical play, and that the troubled characters in it are based on members O’Neill’s own family, including his mother, Ella, who struggled with morphine addiction for most of her life. In his preface to the play, O’Neill talks about how it is a “play of old sorrow, written in tears and blood,” and that he wrote it “with deep pity and understanding and forgiveness for all the four haunted Tyrones.” O’Neill wrote the play for deep personal reasons, and the Addiction Performance Project will present the play to audiences of primary care physicians, physicians in training and other health care professionals to elicit deep personal responses to the disease of addiction.