“In the Rust Belt, it’s a situation where everybody’s heard about it and everybody knows it’s a crisis,” said Nathan Motta, the artistic director of the Dobama Theater in Cleveland Heights. “Everybody is one or two people from somebody who is suffering.”
At least five plays about heroin abuse have been produced in northeast Ohio alone in the last year as the state’s residents grapple with the surging epidemic. The Columbus Dispatch reported in May that at least 4,149 Ohioans died from unintentional overdoses of heroin, fentanyl and other drugs in 2016, a 36 percent jump from the prior year. This year’s overdose fatalities are set to outpace last year’s, according to the report.
Heroin-themed plays have surfaced elsewhere recently, too: at a high school in New Market, Md.; a community theater in Wilkes-Barre, Pa.; and a children’s theater in Roanoke, Va. And on Broadway this spring, the new play “Sweat” — which won the Pulitzer Prize in drama in April — featured two characters who abuse heroin in working-class Reading, Pa.