The cast of Homeward Bound Theatre Company presents its message to students at Chatfield High School last Tuesday.  GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/CHATFIELD NEWS
The cast of Homeward Bound Theatre Company presents its message to students at Chatfield High School last Tuesday. GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/CHATFIELD NEWS
The actors and actresses of Homeward Bound Theatre shared several devastating and destructive "truths" with Chatfield High School students in a dramatic stage presentation on Tuesday morning, Nov. 5, shortly after the average school day began.

The students were certain that tomorrow would be just another Wednesday and that everyone would be alive and well to talk about the weekend's sports tournaments a week later.

However, the Chatfield High School Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) chapter posited, that without some education on the reality that alcohol is in fact a drug, might that be different?

"When I was 4, there was a big bar in the basement of our house and my parents' friends' houses, and us kids played on the floor, trying not to get stepped on. The liquor cabinet was locked, but we must've sounded weird as 4-year-olds ordering mixed drinks," said actress Crystal, flinging herself drunkenly toward the other students. "Beer doesn't do it for me anymore, so I drink the hard stuff. I think quitting is easier if there's no booze around, so I drink it all. And I'm careful what I drink - the drink must have alcohol in it. I never drink cough syrup, cold medicine, vanilla extract, I never drink when I'm asleep and I don't drink when I'm unconscious. I have another rule - there must always be people around when I drink...unless there aren't."

Her friend, Rob, hosted the party at which Crystal made that liquid confession. He confessed that he was throwing the beer bash simply because it would boost his "leadership" and popularity as a high school garage band member.

His pregnant girlfriend, Dana, expressed her doubts about whether she should be drinking, but then again, her mom is "depressing" and tells her that "you're old enough to have this baby, so you're old enough to take care of it."

And Jenny? She didn't know that attending your first kegger could result in being assaulted and left to suffer by boys she thought she knew well.

Just like Alex, one of her assailants, didn't know he'd never recover from an innocent night out.

At times, the other students laughed at what they were hearing simply because what was said was actually funny in a way, but also because they were uncomfortable with the truths being presented about the five stages of drunkenness, about how the first is happiness, followed by losing one's inhibitions, then confusion, stupor and, finally, coma.

And all the while, the alcohol was flowing and flying in a high school.

On stage.

One of the lines the Homeward Bound cast used in its script was "responsible drinking...I put that up there with responsible self-amputation."

Another line was "it's not like we're on drugs or something."

But then Jenny is raped, Alex dies of an alcohol-induced coma, Mark suffers nearly the same fate but survives only to have to learn to feed himself and have the mental capacity of a 2-year-old. Crystal is self-medicating in the wake of Alex's death, Dana and her baby were killed in the back seat of the teenaged designated driver's car, while the designated driver, recovered teen alcoholic Ann, dies simply because she's the only sober person and chooses to follow Alex's ambulance.

The innocence of drinking dissipates into depressing facts - alcohol changes how people relate to one another and how they function, be they teens or adults.

The high school-aged thespians introduced themselves one by one after the presentation, sharing why they choose not to drink.

Toby, who portrays the character, Rob, told how his cousin has caused his family so much heartache through rotten choices he made - 23 arrests for DWI and even more serious infractions - resulting in estrangement from the family.

Evan related how his older brother was "never a bad person," but in eighth grade, his brother started drinking and went through three cars, two girlfriends and rehab in the ensuing years, inflicting inconvenience and hurt on his family.

"It was all for one fabulous night or two," he said.

College student Andrew, 20, inquired of the students, "I'm 20 years old and in college, and I don't drink, so why is it people think that I should? Why should I take up this new illegal hobby? Three hundred years ago, people drank more beer than wine, but that's because the water was not safe. It's 2013 and the water is safe, and there are a lot more beverages available."

Andrew also informed the students that alcohol slows down the brain. "I don't know about you, but my brain is slow enough as it is," he joked. "And did you know that you make 35,000 decisions a day? It's pretty easy to make decisions, but an inebriated frontal lobe goes on vacation, and soon you're making decisions like 'I'm going to throw that guy out the window.' So you do, and then your life gets really complicated."

Homeward Bound Theatre Company founder, Jared, spoke about how he grew up in a home where his mother worked hard to earn money, and his father worked hard to spend it, disappearing for weeks at a time in search of a better place to drink more alcohol. He eventually landed in prison for assault, grand theft auto and "countless other things."

"I feel strongly that teens shouldn't be designated drivers because you're still learning to drive after only two years behind the wheel," Jared said. "And I also feel strongly about drugs and alcohol because my father would choose that over me and my mom, so I never let drugs and alcohol govern how I treat people."

Homeward Bound cast members then spent the next hour in Chatfield High School classrooms, sharing their stories and answering questions from students, fostering discussion as the members of SADD hoped to make a difference for their peers.