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Better to Have Loved…?

Better to Have Loved

In 2007 Ben Rogers, along with production company Junction 15 Films, was making a documentary film, Sick and Tired of Feeling Sick and Tired. The film was intended to help drug addicts and was made in conjunction with the probationary services. Unfortunately, Ben was unable to complete the film as he succumbed to his own heroin addiction and died from an overdose before the project finished.

The film was concluded in Ben’s absence and later discovered by Olly Lambert at Sky Films who used excerpts for his own documentary; Ben, Diary of a Heroin Addict (which was screened several times on Sky and is now available on YouTube). Melanie Whitehead, Ben’s ex-partner, has now chosen to use Ben’s experiences as inspiration for a play which will be premiering in Blackpool this summer.

Owing to the success of Lambert’s input, there has been lots of interest in the film and Melanie was approached to make a stage production but wanted to tell the story herself. She therefore considered the impact a theatre production of this subject matter (drug addiction) would have on the audience. Melanie started to write the play, Better to Have Loved…?, which processed all the negative emotions and changed them to reflect the positive and productive feelings, memories, and senses she had experienced since Ben’s death.

“Some of the play is private footage, which is used as base narrative. There is verbatim theatre, where much of the dialogue has been used and mixed with artistic elements,” Melanie told me. The play is not necessarily traditional theatre. It hopes to reach a specific audience; that of rehabilitators, Blackpool councillors, and the public health services initially. The idea is to come up with a support package to run alongside the production. This, it is hoped, will become a catalyst for other addicts in their recovery.

“People can get into an insulated way of thinking when they have an issue, so therapy concentrates too much on the issue, where it should be looking outward. So art and creativity such as singing and dancing are an alternative; a complementary pathway to get away from the addiction pattern, so service managers can help,” Melanie said.

Her production team, including director Michael Fentiman, will be rehearsing in Blackpool Central Library from 13th July and performing from 3rd to 8th August in the Brunswick Room. This performance is not open to the public and there will be limited tickets so invitations are offered to specific groups and/or people who contribute to the event.

Melanie says, “Accommodating the play is the key to its success and to establish the performance.” Additional crowd-funding is needed to meet the project’s goals. If you want to help financially and sponsor Melanie with her project visit her Kickstarter page for further information.

Melanie’s end goal is to establish a theatre company in Blackpool called the Electric Sunshine Project. The name originates from the fact Blackpool was the first place to get electric street lighting in the UK. If you are interested in this idea, contact Melanie via her website.

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    Local artist, (painting, drawing, collage, and occasional photography, (for reference), of landscape, and abstract, in oil, acrylic, and any other medium which captures my imagination. Contributor, and writer for altBlackpool. Collector, of sometimes anything, but mostly pot, and ceramics.

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