Arts and Culture

A new children’s play debuting in Louisville early next year aims to raise awareness about the effects of the opioid crisis on kids.

The play coming to StageOne Family Theatre is called “Jacked”, and it tells the story of “Jack And The Beanstalk” with a twist: Jack brings home an egg that symbolizes substances like opioids. That egg changes Jack’s community and pushes his mother into addiction. StageOne Artistic Director Idris Goodwin partnered with the Cleveland Play House to produce the play, and he said the goal is to raise awareness of how drugs affect kids and to empower people to take action.

“Even though the child is not necessarily suffering from substance abuse, the fact that they were born into that — they’re coming into the game with challenges,” Goodwin said. “Because we’re devoted to families and children, I felt that we had a real responsibility to try to do something using theater.”

The opioid crisis has taken a toll on Kentucky youth. Of the 5,686 Kentucky children placed in foster care in 2016, a parent’s substance use was a factor in 31 percent of those placements according to American Academy of Pediatrics data.

 Lindsay Bale, the foster care liaison for Jefferson County Public Schools, said more than a thousand JCPS students are in foster care and that substance use played a factor in many of their cases. Bale said StageOne’s play, as well as a recent addition to Sesame Street of a puppet who is in foster care because of a parent’s addiction, could help to erase stigma and help youth to cope.

“A lot of our students suffer in silence, and a lot of kids don’t know that there are other children that are going through the same thing,” Bale said. “If students see [the play], and they can relate to it, then they may be more willing to have a conversation about that and know that there are other students that are also in the same situation.”

The play is expected to tour different schools, venues, and community centers from Feb. 23 to March 11. Goodwin said he hopes to eventually expand and offer the play across the region and state. That, he said, is one way art can make a change.

“Story can be a tool that folks can use, and we offer that,” Goodwin said.