NJ Play On Addiction and Recovery Silently Makes its Way Across the U.S.
TEANECK —There is a theater play on addiction and recovery based out of Teaneck that has reached more than 40,000 people in the hearts of treatment centers, shelters, prisons, and communities with a message of hope and recovery from substance abuse.
The play is called “Visions,” and its author and director is a man by the name of Bob Lo Bue or Bob L. as he likes to be called.
The journey of “Visions” began in 1991 when Bob L., a recovering addict started writing down his thoughts about what it was like for him from addiction to recovery. He used the short breaks on his job in an automotive plant to pen the images in his head.
Soon, he wrote the play and he tried to shop it around at several community theaters that turned it away, saying it was “not our cup of tea.”
So, he decided to form his own cast and his own troupe. Bob L. said he went to addiction and recovery places and gathered a cast of 20 people. They rehearsed in spaces donated to them by various churches.
Soon, Visions Recovery Inc., a non-profit organization was born and they rehearse in Teaneck.
The show’s first performance was in Integrity House at Meadowview Hospital, a treatment facility for alcohol and drug abuse in Secaucus. He said the reaction from the audience was something he would never forget. They were weeping, identifying with the characters through their struggles, yet their spirits were lifted at the same time.
“The show depicts the bottoms from drug and alcohol addiction, and the awakening process to recovery and coming into 12-step rooms and treatments. Not all make it. It’s very real. It’s very harsh. Anyone can show misery. We’re showing misery, and we’re showing, more importantly, recovery,” Bob L. said.
“Visions” started as a 25-minute performance with a musical score, but it is now a one-hour-long performance. The message of hope has silently reached thousands throughout New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania, and has stretched beyond to places like Washington D.C., West Virginia, Michigan, Kansas, and Texas, Bob L. said.
Since the play’s inception, a few hundred shows have been performed, he added.
Over 500 anonymous volunteers (no last names) have joined the production. Bob L. said a typical show will feature up to 25 actors.
He said not all of the actors are recovering addicts. Some of them have been in the orbit of those addicted and others just believed in the message and wanted to be volunteer actors.
“We stayed in the rehabs, treatment centers, shelters, and prisons bringing this mobile troupe that depicted addiction, the real stigma of addiction, but more importantly, recovery from substance abuse,” Bob L. said.
After each performance, the volunteers go into the audience and meet with their peers, and ask them to join the group. Bob L. said it’s a healing for both the cast and the audience members.
In 1993, Visions Recovery Inc. and its play “Visions” received the State of New Jersey Governor’s Volunteer Award in the Arts and Humanities.
In 2002, they received the Presidential Points of Light Award from Washington D.C. for their community service and volunteerism, and they did this without a drop in funding, he added.
“We’ve also been on off-Broadway where we donated two-thirds of all seats to area treatment centers, shelters, prisons, women in need, and HIV groups to see the show for free,” Bob L. Said.
The mobile troupe is not sure where and when its next performance will be in New Jersey but feel free to check out the website for any updates.
Actors are also needed and Bob. L said he wants people to join their troupe and spread the message of hope.
“As powerful is addiction, there is something even more powerful and that is recovery,” Bob L. said.