2016 social issues play published

Story by Abby Painter, Social Media Editor

The 2016 social issues play “Drowning in Quicksand” was published and is now available for other schools to perform. The Repertory Theatre class at that time was the premiere cast to perform the show, which was written by Debbie Lamedman. 

Senior McKenna Shaw was an original cast member as a freshman.

“It’s something that I’ll only get to do here and not many people get the experience as a high schooler,” McKenna said. “You may, as a professional actor, get to be a part of an original thing, but not many 15, 16 or 17-year-olds get to experience being the original cast of something.”

Every year, Lamedman writes a script tackling an issue facing students specifically at PHS. “Drowning In Quicksand” addresses topics such as mental health, depression, self-harm and suicide.

“Of all the plays I’ve written for PHS, ‘Drowning In Quicksand’ is the most personal to me,” Lamedman said. “In having [it] published, I hope more and more audiences will be enlightened to the issue, and those suffering will know they are no longer alone.”

You always leave with kind of a heavy heart and you’re always kind of changed after every class period.”

— McKenna Shaw

Senior Griffin Cooper, who was also in the original cast, didn’t find it difficult dealing with the subject matter as a freshman.

“Things happen,” Cooper said. “It’s a reality so it shouldn’t be something we shy away from as a topic.”

However, many in-class discussions did have an effect on McKenna.

“It’s a safe space and we all know that but it’s still always difficult to have those talks and listen to everyone,” McKenna said. “You always leave with kind of a heavy heart and you’re always kind of changed after every class period.”

Despite the sensitive topic, when she found out that the play had been published, McKenna says she was astonished.

“We always thought that this would be a possibility, but I don’t think I ever really thought that it would make it this far,” McKenna said. “We received two free copies of the play. I opened the front cover and there is the original cast and to see my name in there was really exciting.”

Play director Greg Shaw says that the objective of the social issues play is to start a conversation about difficult topics. 

“[The play getting published] was a confirmation that this stuff is important and this actually puts it in the hands much more quickly to other schools and other students who can deal with these same things that we’ve been dealing with for many years,” Greg said. “The hope is that several of these over the years will become a published piece. It’s just kind of cool for our kids to know that that’s all really possible.”