New Jersey Theater Troupe Acts Out Dangers of Addiction

By John Lavitt 07/02/14

Students in the Garden State can see the drama of drug and alcohol addiction unfold before their eyes.

The Players in action. Photo via

Can a true awareness about the dangers of alcohol and drug abuse be generated for students by putting on a skit? Lynn Bratley, founder and Artistic Director of the Improbable Players, believes artists and performers can be successful and truly help on the front lines of this battle.

In an age when kids receive so much sensationalistic information about drugs and alcohol from the tabloid media, the mission of the Improbable Players has been “to set the stage for prevention by educating the public about addiction and recovery through dramatic performances and theater workshops—presented by actors who are in long-term recovery from addictions—that help people recognize situations in their own lives and seek the help they need.”

In early June of 2014, the company of the Improbable Players once again put Bratley’s theory to the test when they performed in the Memorial Middle School’s gymnasium in Woodland Park, N.J. The production showcased the talents of actors who are recovering addicts and alcoholics. By combining laughter with the goal of raising awareness about the dangers of alcoholism and addiction, the Improbable Players managed to capture the attention of the students while passing on a vital message.

The performance by the Improbable Players was sponsored by the Woodland Park Municipal Alliance against Drugs and Alcohol. A guidance counselor who coordinated the event, Kerry McGlame explained, "This is the second time the troupe came to this school. They are a talented bunch and we were very lucky they came by again. The students were very engrossed with all the scenarios played out here today. The actors travel the country with different performances and role playing workshops."

Performing a skit called "Snapshots of a Family,"  the actors revealed in a visceral fashion the devastating effects that alcoholism and addiction can have on a family. Afterwards, they gave personal testimonials about their own experiences as addicts and alcoholics, detailing how they eventually found the road to recovery. To further engage the students, a question and answer period was held where anything could be asked. At the end of the session, it was clear the students as a whole had been moved by the realistic and heartbreaking messages conveyed.

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Growing up in Manhattan as a stutterer, John Lavitt discovered that writing was the best way to express himself when the words would not come. After graduating with honors from Brown University, he lived on the Greek island of Patmos, studying with his mentor, the late American poet Robert Lax. As a writer, John’s published work includes three articles in Chicken Soup For The Soul volumes and poems in multiple poetry journals and compilations. Active in recovery, John has been the Treatment Professional News Editor for The Fix. Since 2015, he has published over 500 articles on the addiction and recovery news website. Today, he lives in Los Angeles, trying his best to be happy and creative. Find John on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.