UW to Present a Dark Comedy about ADHD

October 18, 2011

The University of Wyoming Department of Theatre and Dance will present "Distracted," Lisa Loomer's dark comedy about a contemporary family struggling with a diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and whether medication is the answer.

Directed by Professor Leigh Selting, "Distracted," runs Oct. 25-29, at 7:30 p.m., and Oct. 30 at 2 p.m. in the Fine Arts Studio Theatre. Tickets cost $14 for the public, $11 for senior citizens and $7 for students. For tickets and information call (307) 766-6666 or go online at www.uwyo.edu/finearts.

"Distracted" revolves around one family's attempt to help their nine-year-old son Jesse, whose behaviors are landing him into trouble at home and school. Jesse can't sit still, he curses, he raps, and you can't get him into -or out of- his pajamas. His teacher thinks that Jesse has ADHD, his psychiatrist thinks he needs medication, his dad thinks he's just being a boy and his mama is on a quest for answers.

This Off-Broadway hit by the author of "Girl, Interrupted" and "The Waiting Room" is a fast-paced, alternately distressing and disarmingly funny look at "parenting in the age of the Internet and Ritalin."

Selting decided to direct the show as much for its timely content as for its artistic challenges, having over the years been surprised to learn how many of his friends with children were dealing with ADHD and all the issues that surround the treatment options for it.

"When I ran across this script, I felt that it would be a wonderful way to re-engage the conversations around the country regarding ADHD at the local level, and hopefully to provide some clarity for those still searching for answers," said Selting.

At times hilarious and others poignant, "Distracted" leads us to ask questions about ADHD, but gives no hard answers. Some questions include: How reliable are diagnoses of ADHD, and how are diagnostic criteria influenced by drug companies? Is drug therapy safe and effective? Are there viable alternatives to drug therapy? And more pervasively, does the modern information-overloaded world contribute to the problem for everyone and increase diagnoses of ADHD?

"The cast and I have learned so much in the past five weeks about ADHD and many other disorders, thanks to Dr. Cynthia Hartung, an associate professor of psychology here at UW, and an expert in ADHD," said Selting. "She immediately volunteered tons of information, personal time in rehearsal, and more importantly, the most current research and sources for answers for parents (and my friends) who live daily with all that having a child diagnosed with ADHD entails.

"All that being said, this is a play. It is funny at times, heart-wrenching at others. It's been a joy to direct," he added.

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