Presented and Written by The Messy Theater Co. AFWTD Cast
Conceptualized and Directed by Billie Hassebrock
Assistant Directed by Stefan James
Stage Managers: Anika Nayak & Olivia Browne
Playwriting Consultant – Nick Freedson
Social Media Consultant – Sophia Schweik
Media Editor – Frank Mohler III
Featuring: Aaron Arpon, Alexandra Montalbano, Casey Corona, Curtis Andersen, Gloria Huang, Kristen Grace, Leo Goodman, Olivia Rose Nathan, Rhikki Cook, Sierra Hastings, Thomas Anawalt, and Tyler Davidson.
The online program is HERE
Critique by Kitty Drexel
ZOOM — The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a toll-free national network of crisis centers in the US. Under the Lifeline website’s “Get Involved” tab, anyone can download Lifeline logos, get brochures, and read recovery stories. It even has an Instagram-specific toolkit. All of this can be accessed without making a donation. Using this information is gloriously free of charge. Interested parties can learn how to support Lifeline’s work via the “Participate” tab.
A Fate Worse Than Death by the Messy Theater Company is a show that includes strong themes of suicide and suicide prevention at the expense/ridicule of social media influencers. As of now, the show doesn’t communicate to its audience that it supports suicide prevention. Their website needs to include a logo, the name of the suicide prevention organization, quick links to resources, a suicide prevention organization donation button, and a phone number to call in an emergency. Just the phone number flashed briefly to the audience with a blurb at the end of the show isn’t enough.
Their performances could trigger mental health relapses. Including Lifeline information in their program (like Dear Evan Hansen which was a horror-show for different reasons) gives the triggered immediate access to health resources. If someone needs help, it is best to make accessing it easy.
By not including up-to-date information on suicide prevention, whether it chooses to or not, the Messy Theater Co. is signaling to its audience that it is apathetic to suicide prevention. I don’t believe that this is what the Messy Theater Co. intends but intentions don’t matter. Preventing harm does matter.
The CDC has links to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (also the first result in Google). Anyone, any theatre company can access this information.
I write this information because it’s important. A Messy Theater Company made mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes. Fortunately, these are easily corrected by tweaking the website, adding a new pre-performance blurb about suicide prevention, and updating the end-of-show blurb to better speak on suicide prevention.
Including this information won’t give anything about the show away. It will make the experience easier for those who have attempted or are considering suicide. I considered suicide as a teen. I was lucky to survive my depression. Watching this didn’t trigger me but my experiences left me sensitive to the needs of others. Not every young person has a community to help them as I did.
A Fate Worse Than Death is otherwise a fun, interactive show. Horror fans will have a blast. Simple, correctible mistakes shouldn’t stop anyone from creating their art. This is also true for a horror play commenting on the messy humanity/ridiculousness of social media influencers.