Photo by Diane Cox
Alton High School senior Jake Gallup plays the role of Christian in the Amare production of “If I Never Wake Up.” The play on March 12 at the Alfresco Art Center in Granite City will address the pain an addict and their family experiences.
Amare, a nonprofit group in East Alton, serves as a bridge for current or recovering addicts, family and friends to programs, services and organizations that are considered an important part of someone’s recovery from addiction.
“Amare is the Italian verb for love,” Amare President Ty Bechel said. “I chose to use it as a verb because that implies action. That’s what Amare is about and what we do. Our logo is the lotus flower because the lotus can grow through the mud and muck and still become something beautiful. The only way to move forward is by positive action.”
A recovering addict himself, Bechel personally knows the intense struggle with addiction and the hard road to recovery. He says he has been clean and sober for 3 1/2 years.
“A lot of us go through a lot of pain and suffering and too many are turning to drugs and alcohol for an escape,” Bechel said. “We get ourselves into some muddy waters. People can come out of it when they have support.”
A part of Amare is education and awareness of the dangers of drug and alcohol addiction. Through his experiences with substance abuse and his passion for writing, Bechel wrote and produced a play, “If I Never Wake Up,” to bring the harsh reality of addiction to the stage at Alfresco Art Center in Granite City.
For a one-time performance, individuals who have had a first-hand experience with the effects of a loved one’s addiction will portray a family going through the trauma of substance abuse. Bechel says the actors chosen will be more effective in delivering the message because their pain, fear and concern is a real memory from which to draw their emotions.
Loral Lamere of East Alton knows firsthand the pain caused by drugs after her son Kyle died of an opiate overdose in 2014. Lamere plays the role of a mother.
“I lost my son on Easter Sunday in 2014,” she said. “While my grandchildren were outside hiding Easter eggs, my son was getting high inside the house. We got a call at 5 p.m. that night asking us to come to the house. From there I was lost. I was a mother who lost her child. I didn’t know what to do, where to go, who to talk to.”
“A neighbor lost two children and came to see me. She invited me to a candlelight ceremony where I met numbers of people. I gained strength each day and I was able to help my kids and husband get through it, too. Kyle was 29 years old with three children. I know when I’m on stage in this play the people will see the real emotion because the pain is real.”
In his personal research, Bechel read medical professionals are calling drug and alcohol addiction one of the worst threats to humanity in the 21st century. It’s his goal to reach out in his community in an attempt to educate and be another option for those who reach for their addiction during tough times.
Alton High School senior Jake Gallup, who plays Christian, says he hopes the message can reach his peers who may have attempted or considered taking drugs.
“I know there have been some kids who have tried different things other than weed or alcohol,” Gallup said. “It’s important for them to see the real effects that happen because they took drugs. If one person’s life is changed or if one person made a different decision, then all this time and effort is well worth it. It’s been fun working with Ty (Bechel) and the rest of the cast.”
Because of the play’s content, Bechel asks anyone younger than 18 be accompanied by a parent or guardian. The play portrays simulated drug use and may not be suitable for all audiences.
The show will take place at the Alfresco Art Center, 2401 Delmar in Granite City. The cost is $7 per ticket and will run one time at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 12. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Visit the Amare Facebook page or www.amarenfp.org. Call Loral at (618) 593-7284, Jake at (618) 550-6689 or Ty at (618) 780-4843 for tickets or information. Tickets also can be purchased at the door.
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