I sought out Our Own Voice because the main idea behind their troupe is mental health and community awareness about its various forms. In February, I lost my sister. She killed herself.
This play isn’t a way to tell people directly what they should do about someone who has killed themselves or is trying to do so; rather, it is about the mental processes that lead you there. It’s about the spiraling nature of introversion and the rejection of people and what they represent. Very few people came up to me after my sister died and expressed anything other than “I just don’t know why she would this.” These are the same kinds of people that push someone contemplating suicide over the edge. Not to over-simplify anything, but part of it is the loneliness, thinking that you have no real choice, because no one seems to understand, then you keep spiraling out of control. It’s not their fault. If someone had only approached Mr. White (The suicidal character of Sunset Limited) before he firmly decided to kill himself, he might have come around. If only someone had asked him what was going on in his life and they genuinely cared about what he had to say, then the Sunset Limited might not have been his only alternative.
At the very least, the story gives the uninitiated insight into a suicidal person’s thoughts. I remember having very similar conversations to the ones that White and Black have in the story with Amanda, my sister. The end of Sunset Limited may seem hopeless or terrifying, but I don’t see it that way. In the end, the audience is left with a greater understanding of a suicidal person’s thoughts and hopefully they can see a better way to communicate with them. This seems like a perfect fit for Our Own Voices’ mission statement. You could not ask for a better play to spur conversation about why someone would commit suicide. The entire play is a dialog between two people that list reasons for and against the decision. This play will give a voice to those that choose suicide every day and give the viewers a comprehensive look at why someone would do this, and hopefully, it will empower others to talk to those who are not heard or understood, people like Amanda.
-Chad Allen Barton
Here's to a Great Run!
This weekend is our final two performances of Sunset and it really is surreal. My first time directing theatre has gone by in a flash and I have so many people to thank for that. Kimberly and Bill Baker with Own Our Voice Theatre Troupe gave me the space in which to do it and their wisdom has helped guide me. Ron Gephart and T.C. Sharpe were such incredible performers and their natural acting instincts made directing them effortless. Joey Carr, my assistant director, was never afraid to tell me his opinion and that opinion became invaluable in making such a complete show. Danielle Carr worked diligently to organize and wrangle everyone involved. Chad Irwin, my set designer/builder/costume/everything, has always been my go-to guy. He has an amazing eye for detail and knows exactly what I like. Don Lee and Allen Mealer were absolutely essential. Their technical knowledge saved my butt on this production more times than I can count. Lastly, I'd just like to remind everyone that this was all a sort of memorial for my sister. I can only hope that the people that saw and will see the show this weekend will take the message of this play to heart.
Our production of Sunset Limited that is being put on in conjunction with Our Own Voice Theatre Troupe is set to open September 27th and play every Friday and Saturday until October 12th. The two lead roles are being portrayed by Ron Gephart and T.C. Sharpe. Set Design has already begun and should prove to be a slightly different take on the usual design for a production of Sunset Limited. Looking forward to keeping all of you up to date as the process moves forward. Very excited to be given the chance to do this.
-Chad Allen Barton