Play emphasizes overcoming addictions, rebuilding life

Azka Khan

Cast of “Making It Right” composed of reformed addicts

Everyone makes mistakes, but it is how a person deals with those mistakes that makes all the difference.

That was the central theme to “Making It Right,” a production put on by the Cleveland Public Theatre last night in the Kiva. The production was sponsored by the sociology and justice studies departments.

The play began with the main character, Al Anderson, hitting a man with his car and then driving away. Anderson is an ex-con who has changed his life around and runs a successful catering business. Anderson wants to pretend that nothing happened and definitely does not want to go to the police. Yet, Anderson has nightmares about the accident and is torn inside.

“This boy is sick,” Anderson’s grandpa said. “He is sick in his soul, and a healthy soul can have no secrets.”

It is by his grandpa’s advice that Anderson decides to find the man he hit six years before.

The play follows Anderson’s journey to find the man, whom he eventually finds living under a bridge unable to walk without crutches. The man, Jonah Smith, is unable to talk but is willing to listen to Anderson. As Anderson explains his life to Smith, he quickly realizes that forgiveness from Smith will not be enough for him. He suggests that Smith accompany him to the police station so he can turn himself in.

“I finally feel like a free man,” Anderson said at the end.

The journey that Anderson is on is all too realistic for the 17 cast members of the play. The production was a collaborative effort between the Cleveland Public Theatre and the Y-Haven center. Y-Haven is a shelter for men who are in recovery, and the play is a display of their real life experiences.

“It was amazing how much of our lives were incorporated into the play,” said Rick Moraco, who played Dr. “Crank” Harvey.

“This experience helped them grow and mature,” said Deborah Burke, Cleveland Public Theatre playwright. “When I first met them, they were so defeated. Now they are not, and this is the first time many of them have finished something without drugs or alcohol getting in the way.”

Cleveland Public Theatre Director Denis Griesmer said he found this production great because it was a unique script.

“The uniqueness of this type of performance is just fantastic,” Griesmer said. “It was also our largest cast ever, but they were so disciplined.”

DeAndre Merritt, who plays Anderson, said he loved doing the play.

“I’ve been acting all my life through lying, cheating and stealing,” Merritt said. “Now I actually get to act and get paid for it.”

Nicholas Burns said the best part of the program and the play was being able to spend time with all the other men. He said the whole experience has made him open up about his life and get in touch with himself.

“I’ve learned about the serious issues in my life,” Burns said, “issues that I need to address and overcome.”

Burke said the men not only learn to act but also learn lighting and sound.

“These men have been given a sense of self-confidence that they have never had before,” Burke said.

Burns said the play has encouraged him to go back to school and be with his family again.

“I’m now able to be with them because I no longer need to be with drugs or alcohol,” he said.

All the men agreed that their problems most affected their families and loved ones. That is why the title “Making it Right” is about overcoming addictions and then starting the process of making amends.

“Making it right is an internal process that begins with yourself,” said Billy Ward, who played the chef. “It is honesty, willingness and desire to change.”

Contact College of Arts and Sciences reporter Azka Khan at [email protected].