SPRINGFIELD – The Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) Theater Workshop students are set to open Lisa Loomer’s award-winning play “Distracted,” May 1 through 4, with a special event to benefit the Curtis Blake Center on May 2.
The focus of “Distracted” revolves around the 9-year-old character, Jesse, and his family. Jesse is misunderstood and “diagnosed” with a variety of labels by the people around him – like his teacher, who thinks he has attention deficit disorder and his father who proclaims he’s just “being a boy.” With his mother on a mission to figure out what’s “wrong” with her son, she consults a psychologist, homeopath, neuropsychologist, and an environmental physician. As a result, viewers will witness the characters unfold and become “distracted” with the situation at-hand.
Reviewers have hailed “Distracted” as, “a hilarious, provocative, and poignant look at a modern family and modern issues and asks us to question, are we so tuned into our 24-seven, info-rich world that we have tuned out what really matters?”
Joining the STCC theater workshop students for “Distracted” is local actor and Tatham Elementary School student Devin Gearty, 11, of West Springfield. Gearty, who will play the part of Jesse, has been acting for nearly four years and currently attends classes at The Drama Studio in Springfield.
STCC Assistant Professor of English and Theater Philip O’Donoghue said he chose “Distracted” for this year’s performance because he felt it was a funny, poignant play that would not only capture the audience’s attention, but raise awareness. He also had to make a few adjustments in order to accommodate his class, adjusting the suggested cast size from nine to 17.
“We have several parents in the cast, and the play really resonates with them,” O’Donoghue said. “And with raising the cast size, we have found that there is definitely strength in numbers. By using sound, images, and multiple set changes, our students are learning what a truly magical experience theater can be. Our students are an incredibly talented and unique group of individuals.”
In addition to the regularly scheduled performances, the group is also hosting a special benefit performance for the Curtis Blake Center on May 2.
Michaelene Cronin, executive director of the Curtis Blake Center at American International College, said the play focuses on the multiple perspectives and the impact of modern culture on people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
“It’s a story that needs to be told,” Cronin added. “Working together, parents and educators can make a difference. At the Blake Center, keeping the child at the center of all discussion is paramount, and I hope the audience will come away from this play with empathy and compassion for the different perspectives of all those involved.”
O’Donoghue said he has experienced first-hand the support the Curtis Blake Center provides to its families and credits the center for his own son’s success in school.
“As parents of a child with dyslexia, my wife and I benefited from the great work the Curtis Blake Center does every day with children and their families,” O’Donoghue said. “We hope the benefit performance will help raise awareness of the wonderful work the Curtis Blake Center does, and other parents will find the same support, help, and encouragement as my wife and I did through working with them. Today, our son is a thriving college junior who loves school and we have the Curtis Blake Center to thank for that.”
Performances of “Distracted” will take place at STCC in the Scibelli Hall theater on May 1 at 11 a.m.; May 2 and May 3 at 7 p.m.; and May 4 at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $10, or $5 for students. For additional ticket information, contact 755-4233.
A special reception for the Curtis Blake Center will take place in Scibelli Hall (7th Floor) on May 2 at 5:30 p.m., prior to the evening performance. For tickets to this event, please contact Heather Cahill in the American International College Development Office, firstname.lastname@example.org
“Distracted” is presented by special arrangement with Dramatists Play Service Inc., New York.