Simpatico Theatre and West Chester University to Present New Touring Play and Art Exhibition that Explores the Current Overdose Epidemic

-Courtesy of Bryan Buttler Media Relations, LLC

Simpatico Theatre, based in Philadelphia, is partnering with Pennsylvania’s West Chester University to workshop a new touring production and exhibit that explores the country’s current overdose epidemic.  A SHADOW THAT BROKE THE LIGHT is a one-man show written and performed by multi-Barrymore Award-winning actor Charlie DelMarcelle; the project also features an artwork exhibition, Epidemic, created by Charlie’s activist printmaker brother, Adam DelMarcelle, and Dr. Eric Avery.

“Adam and Charlie have been on the front lines addressing this epidemic in a variety of ways,” notes Simpatico Artistic Director Allison Heishman. “A SHADOW THAT BROKE THE LIGHT and Epidemic serve as a living memorial for those who have gone, those who have been left behind, and those who we may never know.”

A SHADOW THAT BROKE THE LIGHT explores first person accounts collected from the family and friends of victims of the current overdose epidemic. These stories are framed by Charlie’s own story of the loss of his and Adam’s younger brother, Joey, to a heroin overdose in 2014.

This production was originally developed in collaboration with Troy Foundry Theatre in upstate New York.  This October 2021 at West Chester University, Simpatico Theatre and the DelMarcelle brothers will create and workshop a touring production of A SHADOW THAT BROKE THE LIGHT designed to increase accessibility to the myriad of communities being devastated by the overdose epidemic epidemic in America. This workshop will focus on new developments of the script including stories shared during the 2021 virtual performances hosted by Simpatico Theatre and Troy Foundry Theatre.  

Epidemic: an exhibition by Dr. Eric Avery and Adam DelMarcelle
Runs Oct 4 – Oct 29, 2021
Reception: Oct 6, 2021 at KNAUER GALLERY, 817 S High St, West Chester, PA 19383
Location: Swope Music Building at West Chester University
This exhibit brings together the work of two activist artists, Eric Avery and Adam DelMarcelle, as they bear witness and call audiences to action as the overdose epidemic claims the lives of 197 people a day in the United States.

Eric Avery is an artist and psychiatrist with a long history of making art related to his medical work with refugees, human rights abuses, HIV/AIDS, and Hepatitis C. During the time of HIV/AIDS, his prints captured truthful moments in the pandemic sweeping the world and his pioneering art medicine actions demystified HIV testing and AIDS care by conducting testing and exhibiting medical care in the gallery and art museum settings. He has tried to show how art can save lives.

Adam DelMarcelle’s prints and social art actions have been made in Pennsylvania, on the frontlines of the exploding opioid epidemic and have functioned to educate and mobilize community response through compelling his viewers to ask better questions and to always be suspect of the information given by those in power. After losing a brother to an opioid overdose, DelMarcelle committed his life to the betterment of his community through his work as an educator and artist.

“With the goals of supporting the development of a deeper understanding of the opioid epidemic and to encourage reflective thinking about harm reduction as a needed immediate response, the exhibit bears witness and encourages reflective thinking,” notes DelMarcelle. “An art gallery as a space for healing and harm reduction? Why not? Art can save lives.”

An epidemic is defined by the artists as a progressive descent from physical, psychological and community wellness which is often ignored until the suffering and death from our human family can no longer be hidden behind the walls of the power structures’ status quo. Successful interventions during epidemics often require all persons within a community to ask themselves what part they play in the landscape of the problem and how they might best participate in reducing harm and restoring wellness.
During an epidemic, the past can repeat itself and previous lessons have to be relearned. In January 2018, when the Governor of Pennsylvania declared a statewide health disaster for the opioid and heroin epidemic, the creators of the exhibit were reminded of the hopelessness and terror of the 1990’s, when HIV/AIDS was spreading and many were dying. They believe that if history repeats itself in the current opioid epidemic, the hopelessness, stigma and death will be reduced as the understanding of contributing factors grows, treatment approaches improve and community resources are marshaled to respond.

In this exhibit, Avery’s historical prints position the opioid epidemic in a larger context of earlier epidemics. DelMarcelle’s installation of Our Town and current print series will take the viewer through the streets of Lebanon, PA where heroin is being sold and people die. Within the gallery, a Harm Reduction art action space will be used for Harm Reduction education, including Naloxone training, information sessions on needle exchange and safer using methods. Information will be available in the space for those seeking help, support and available treatment options. Harm reduction at its core meets people where they are with compassion and aims to keep them alive. 

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