Westerville South High School thespians will present "Distracted," a comedy by American playwright and screenwriter Lisa Loomer, this weekend at the school, 303 S. Otterbein Ave.
Show times are 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 5, through Saturday, Sept. 7, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 8. Tickets cost $10 and can be reserved at https://bit.ly/2HCfcQF.
Audiences will meet 9-year-old Jesse, who can't sit still.
His teacher thinks he has attention-deficit disorder, but his father attributes his behavior to just being a boy. His mother is on a quest for answers, talking to the neighbors, whose children have their own diagnoses.
Throughout, Jesse is an offstage voice, becoming louder and angrier, but he is in danger of fading away.
"I chose this show because attention-deficit disorder has such a stigma in the world still," said Matthew Wolfe, director. "As educators, we are taught to teach each student as individuals, regardless of diagnosis. When a student is diagnosed, it allows the tribe to get together and serve the child best."
Wolfe said this play is about ADD, but it is also about growing up in a world obsessed with labels, medications and finding an angle to get ahead.
"We want to listen to doctors, but these doctors all have different opinions and how does a parent do the right thing?" he said. "This show allowed us to start a conversation about who we really are with or without our labels. It looks from all angles and has offered the opportunity for us to tell our own stories from different perspectives."
Senior Isabel Brinker plays Vera, an obsessive-compulsive neighbor who both helps and hinders Jesse's mother's quest to help her child.
"Mental illness is a big thing in this day and age, especially in teenagers," she said. "It's important that we bring to light the struggles of dealing with illness so those who don't experience it can have a better understanding."
Sophomore Kyra Lesmerises takes on the role of Sherry, who has two children, Noah and Natalie.
"Both of her children have issues and Sherry feels the need to medicate them," Lesmerises said. "Noah shows signs of improvement, while Natalie ... not so much. Sherry shows that every person has their own problems with their own unique solutions. No one is the same, so no one should be judged the same."
Lesmerises said the show deals with serious issues but adds comedy.
"Even if you don't have ADD yourself, you gain a better understanding and more empathy for those who do," she said.
Senior Kandy Boakye said her character, Mama (of Jesse), moves the story along and informs and offers insights on the struggles of what it is like to live in an ADD/ADHD world.
Sophomore Madison Yanichko takes on the role of Dr. Zavala, Jesse's psychologist who helps guide Mama through trying to diagnose and cure Jesse.
"This show is important because it shows the value of family and loving each other no matter how you act," she said. "Throughout the story, Mama is constantly trying to find a cure for Jesse as she travels through her crazy life. But she realizes that what he really needs has been staring at her straight in the face -- her love and attention."
Junior Georgia Santino, who plays Natalie, Jesse's babysitter, said the show is full of themes important to today.
She said the show is appropriate for adults and teens looking for a good message, a good laugh and a good cry.
Sophomore Tyler Zwick, who plays various doctors in the show, said "Distracted" is a modern show, which is not something South's theater program does very often.
"It deals with topics that are a part of life not just in our department, but in our whole school," Zwick said. "This show is something special, and we are so proud of the way it has turned out."
Wolfe said the English and art departments have combined at South to create a visual display that will express students' thoughts and ideas about mental health and issues teens face.
"This immersive environment will be a unique theater experience and the seating is on stage," he said.
He said up to 90 audience members will be accommodated on stage each evening.
"The audience will enjoy it," Wolfe said.