Tackling the Opioid Crisis through New Plays

Throughout 2019, Elephant Room Productions will present short audio plays concerning the opioid crisis on our podcast: The Trumpet.  In October, these plays will be presented live in an evening-of-staged-readings performance to support National Substance Abuse Prevention Month and Red Ribbon Week. A generous portion of proceeds from this production will be donated to a related organization to help end the opioid crisis.



These stories range from children coping with their recovering mother, parents dealing with writing the obituary for their late daughter, a married couple arguing over medical methods and solutions to chronic pain, a mother who gave all she had to help her son try to recover and a rhythmic piece that exposes the ultimate causes and effects of the medical/pharma side of this epidemic. Each piece is first being produced as an audio play on our podcast, The Trumpet, over the summer. Then, in October, we will be producing an interactive production in New York City as a part of Red Ribbon Week.  Read on for more about the teams behind the project.


Lauren Shover began her work in Philadelphia at Brat Productions working as the Assistant Director to Director, John Clancy, on their production of The Last Plot in Revenge.  Lauren has also worked with Simpatico Theatre Company as Assistant Producer on their Second Stage Series as well as Bucket List Productions as Associate Producer running their ongoing interactive theatre show, Trapped in a Room with a Zombie. In New York City, Lauren has worked with the Artful Conspirators as Assistant Director for their workshop of Bad Husband written by Dano Madden as well as the 92nd St. Y Resident Artists as Director of their workshop of First Snow written by Christopher G. Ulloth.  In 2014, Lauren co-founded the development and workshopping company, Elephant Room Productions.  Elephant Room Productions has workshopped new pieces such as Foothills Park and Beautiful American Soldier by Dano Madden, Whispers by Phil Czekner, Captive by Lauren M. Shover, Pis Allers by Titus O’Neill and Ventilator Blues by Bob Kerr. In 2017, Lauren directed Suicide Stories: Gallery of the Untold as part of the Philadelphia Fringe Festival, which was quoted by the Broad Street Review as “dizzying and exhilarating” and by the Phindie as “a surprising reminder of how good it is just to be alive.”. Lauren currently works as a Prevention Specialist for Shalom Inc. educating todays youth about bullying, drugs, alcohol and violence.



Before the nation turned its attention to the opioid epidemic, chronic pain patients and the people who loved them had long experienced the consequences of overprescription. Once the impact was addressed, they faced the new challenge of abrupt changes in their care plans aimed to get people off of medications they never should have been given for long-term use. Take Care explores the impact this has on a marriage where ‘in sickness’ loses the certainty of ‘in health,’ leaving a woman desperate to be free from her pain.


Caity-Shea Violette (Playwright) is a national award-winning playwright who makes stories about invisible disabilities, gender-based violence, and complex trauma accessible to wider audiences. Her plays include TARGET BEHAVIOR (Kennedy Center’s National Partners of the American Theatre Playwriting Excellence Award Winner, Kennedy Center’s David Mark Cohen National Playwriting Award National Semi-Finalist, Shakespeare’s Sister Playwriting Fellowship National Semi-Finalist), REAP THE GROVE (Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival New Play Competition Finalist), THE STAND (InspiraTO Playwriting Contest Finalist), DISCONNECT (Kennedy Center’s Ten-Minute Play Competition National Finalist), SAVE THE DATE (InspiraTO Playwriting Contest Finalist), LILY (Kennedy Center’s Ten-Minute Play Competition National Semi-Finalist) and others. Her work has been produced and/or developed at such places as the Kennedy Center, Boston Playwrights’ Theatre, Artemisia Theatre, Theatre InspiraTO, Commission Theatre Co., 20% Theatre Company, E.D.G.E. Youth Theatre, Ignition Arts, and more. She is a member of Dramatists Guild of America. Caity-Shea earned her BFA in Theatre from University of Minnesota, Duluth and is a graduate of St. Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists. She is currently pursuing her MFA in Playwriting at Boston University.


Latrice Smith (Director) is a Philadelphia native who earned her B.A. in Theatre and Strategic communication from The University of Scranton. She has worked with Elephant Room Productions since summer of 2017. Latrice is an actor, director, Stage manager and Producer primarily based in Philadelphia. Currently she is the Producing Intern at the Vineyard Theatre in New York and will appear in the reading Beacons by Dan Mauro in June. She is thrilled to be working with ERP on this project!



A couple is forced to contend with bitterness and anger along with their grief as they write an obituary for their daughter.

Ellen Davis Sullivan (Playwright) is an award-winning writer of stories, non-fiction and plays. Her stories have appeared in print journals including Cherry Tree, Stonecoast Review and Moment Magazine. Her essay, The Perfect Height for Kissing won the 2014 Columbia University Non-Fiction Prize and was published in Columbia: A Journal of Literature and Art. Her one-act plays have been produced in festivals around the country. She is a member of the Dramatists’ Guild.




Robert Gene Pellechio (Director) is thrilled to be making his directorial Debut with Elephant Room Productions! A member of ERP since its inception, Robert currently serving as Podcast Director and hosts the monthly podcast The Trumpet, the official podcast of Elephant Room Productions. Previous ERP projects have included A Midsummer Night's Cabaret (Bottom), Captive (The Doctor), Whispers (Nobody), and Production Manager for Suicide Stories: Gallery of the Untold. In addition to ERP Robert has performed with Bootless Stageworks, Renaissance Music Theatre, The Candlelight Theatre, and most frequently Hedgerow Theatre, where he has served as an actor and Teaching Artist and Director/Assistant Director of several youth productions.



A teenage boy tells his sister a story in an effort to help her cope and understand the abusive environment they live in. The fictional story and the world they operate in slowly begin to converge with each other.

Robby Justiss (Playwright) is a writer, actor, and producer raised in Morgantown, West Virginia and currently residing in Chicago, Illinois. He has written and directed numerous short films that have played at prestigious film festivals across the world. He is an alum of Harold Ramis Film School at The Second City and is also a Resident Director at Seven Stories Theatre Company. 




Julianne Schaub (Director) is a Philadelphia based theatre artist and is thrilled to be working with ERP once again. Her first production with them was their 2017 Philly Fringe piece Suicide Stories, she fell in love with the herd and all that they do. She has also performed regionally at the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, Hedgerow Theatre and at the Please Touch Museum Playhouse- all of which have deepened her love for story-telling, which is what drew her to the piece she is directing for The Opioid Project. 



Edie knits in her living room, where the only furniture left is a couch. When her troubled son Jacob arrives and wants to take her couch from her, Edie declares enough. As mother and son fight over the last piece of furniture in the house, the events that lead them to this point are finally laid bare.

Shannon Murdoch (Playwright) is the winner of the Yale Drama Series Award for her play New Light Shine, which was also selected for the National Play Festival. It is published by Yale University Press with a foreword written by John Guare. Virus Attacks Heart was produced at EAT New Works Festival, NYC, Planet Connections Festival NYC and Venus Theatre Company in Maryland. It is published by Original Works. Dog & Boy was a finalist for the Rodney Seaborn Playwrights Award and break, or catch firewas a finalist for the Patrick White Playwright Award from Sydney Theatre Company. Other plays include One Cloud (Theatreworks, Melbourne), Everything in Between(Smith& Kraus, Best 10 Minute Plays) and Act Accordingly (JAC Publishing). Shannon holds a first class honours degree in Theatre and Creative Writing from Griffith University and is a graduate of The Playwrights Studio at the National Institute of Dramatic Art. An Australian delegate to the International Youth Playwrights Festival (Interplay), she has received writing fellowships from the Australian Council for the Arts, the Djerassi Resident Artists Program in California, Victoria Writers Centre and Hothouse Theatre. She can be found at www.shannonmurdoch.com.au


Elizabeth Potter (Director) is a New York City based producer and director. Having her start in musical theatre, Potter has performed with regional and off-Broadway theatres and on-screen in commercials and independent films. Alongside her performance career, Potter has built experience in box office and company management, sales, dance instruction, and non-profit community development and outreach, which now informs her work as a producer and director for film, video, photography, and live experiences. In 2018, seeking to provide an empathetic space to hone the creative process, increase artistic skill, and quality output, she founded Potter Productions, LLC to connect artists with the resources they need to refine and execute their vision. More at potterproductionsllc.com and eapotter.com and on socials @potterproductionsllc and @e.a.potter.



Read about the development process as the finalists progress through the our Elephant Ears Reading Series.


Check back here for new episodes of the opioid audio play series as they publish from the months of June through September 2019.