Stage

One Sixteenth of an Inch

When: Fri., Nov. 18, 7:30 p.m. 2016

'It's always there," says playwright Hannah Rockey of the pain of her sister's suicide. "It was 19 years ago and it sits on my shoulders as if it's been hours. It's never going to be OK, but it's there."

Rockey, who will soon finish her master's degree in drama therapy, is the writer of One Sixteenth of an Inch, an ethnodrama about suicide, performed tonight by THEATREdART at Cottonwood Center for the Arts. Rockey says she put the play out there without expecting much response, but that THEATREdART immediately offered a space, actors and support to get it produced.

For those unfamiliar with the term, an ethnodrama is a non-traditional play, comprising personal stories and interviews. For One Sixteenth, Rockey interviewed people who have been affected by suicide — either the suicide of a loved one or their own attempts.

She pulled these stories together — including the moments of humor that made them so human — and framed them in a way that makes sense. More importantly, it conveys a message.

"We've had so many suicides of all ages," she says, "that we've got to start talking about it. The whole message of the play is 'talk about it.'"

During the piece, a mime wanders the stage. Her role is to try to hush the people speaking, to turn the sign around or distract the audience. According to Rockey, the mime represents the "everyman" who doesn't like to discuss the sensitive issue of suicide.

"I'm thinking of it less as a play and more as a public service," Rockey says, adding that the talk-back afterward with folks from Pikes Peak Suicide Prevention may be more important, even, than the play itself.

THEATREdART is well known within the community for putting on unconventional and evocative works. A devised performance of War of the Worlds earlier this year got people talking, and they've also tackled everything from Crime and Punishment to Reservoir Dogs.

Tonight, they and Rockey present One Sixteenth of an Inch alongside poetry and other performance art, hoping to start the conversation and, maybe, find some healing along the way.

7:30 p.m., Cottonwood Center for the Arts, 427 E. Colorado Ave., all donations benefit Pikes Peak Suicide Prevention, theatredart.org.

Price: Donations accepted

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