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Dirt: A one man show about growing up & mental health


WHAT is Dirt?



Dirt is a one-man show that explores the challenges and decisions that young people face every day. By approaching things through the lens of mental health, Dirt gets to the heart of issues related to drugs, bullying, and self esteem in a manner that resonates with audiences in a real and meaningful way.  Through the portrayal of relatable and memorable characters, John Morello gives voice to those who sometimes feel as though they are not heard and reassurance to those who sometimes feel as though they are not understood. John does not preach, teach, or lecture; instead, he takes students on a journey that challenges them to think about the choices they make and how those choices impact their own lives and the lives of those around them.

WHY book the show Dirt?



Dirt is a powerful performance that stays with students and adults alike long after it is over.  More than just a “motivational” presentation, Dirt inspires people to take action by urging them to reflect upon the choices that they make in their daily lives, from what they put into their bodies, to the way they treat one another, to the way they treat themselves.  John feels strongly that young people don’t require flashing lights and clichés to help them to make better choices and connections.  Like everyone else, young people want honesty, respect, and something that is real.  Call it catharsis or drama therapy or just the power of a good story, many of us can point to a work of art in our lives that stuck with us and inspired us a little more than a speech or lecture. Through his one man show, John is making the impact of his message meaningful and long lasting.


How will Dirt work with our...



Mental Health / Wellness Day

In telling this come-of-age story, John speaks candidly about his own journey with depression and anxiety and the circumstances that made life difficult as a young adult. He also makes himself vulnerable by stepping out from behind his characters in the show and talking about his current everyday struggles in order to destigmatize mental health diagnoses and treatment. With the show and his testimonials John brings oxygen into the room and makes students feel safe to begin a conversation with their leaders, peers, and themselves.

Bullying Awareness/Prevention Program?


Issues of bullying, violence, and respect are key components of Dirt. Several of the characters in Dirt are grappling with the challenges of being themselves in a high school world that wants them to be anything but.  Characters face confrontation from peers who question, bully, ridicule, and ultimately influence the decisions they make- whether those decisions end up being positive or negative.  As we get to know the characters in the show, we learn that all actions and all words have real consequences and that we must have accountability for what we say and do. 


Drug and Alcohol Awareness/Prevention Program?


Drug and alcohol use is one of the themes theme of Dirt.  Several of the characters portrayed use drugs regularly, and all characters have varied opinions on the impact drugs and/or alcohol have had on their lives.  As the show develops, the characters share their experiences, their reasoning, and oftentimes their pain, causing the audience to think deeply about issues of substance use, abuse and addiction.  


Leadership Program?

Dirt is a performance that is meant to compel people to think and to take action.  Student leaders who see Dirt will be able to use the topics brought forth as a springboard to create school or community based programming and to speak out about the issues in the show.


The cast of characters



A WWII veteran who reflects on his life, his choices, and his care for the young people in his life. He has seen his country at its most heroic and its most ignorant, having lived before and after the Civil Rights Movement. He is a husband, a father, a grandfather, and a victim of a cruel joke at the hands of the young people in town. He is living proof that a hero is not always born on the battlefield of war but in the everyday battles that our loved ones face. Hank eventually ties up all the loose threads of the story.

'I forgot what it was like to be young. To have someone just look at you, and laugh."

"Embarrassed? By addiction... or depression?!  If that kid had cancer we'd say he was brave for getting help. If he had diabetes we'd have a fundraiser for him and help his parents...So...I told the kid that I've never stopped being proud of him or loving him and I'm glad he's getting help... Every kid deserves a second chance but not every kid GETS a second chance."


A quiet student with a dark sense of humor and an even darker past filled with assault and bullying. They are sarcastic in their view of life and often fantasize about the damage they could do to themselves and others if they were pushed too far. They fight an inner battle against monsters and ghosts while trying not to become one themselves.

" I don't need to text 50 friends. I just need one friend. I don't need someone to tell me it's gonna get better or to cheer up. I just need someone who can see the same chaos that I see everyday. So, I know I'm not crazy. Or, if I am crazy, at least I'm not crazy by myself."


Every town’s “stoner” who sees weed as harmless and his actions as disconnected from others . He is talented but drifting further away from a future filled with real potential. He spends most of his time helping his cousin who is a special education student which makes him likable and noble. He does this not only because he cares but it also lets him, in a way, hide from people who would expect any kind of success or life plan from him.


"It's like once they find out you smoke weed they just assume you're a stoner and then they assume you're stupid, and then they give you easier work."

David / Pi

The protagonist. A high school student tangled up in prescription drugs. Pi feels outside school society and angry at life in suburbia. Despite his quick wit and often harsh assessment of his peers he is able to have compassion for those who are bullied or othered. Like a lot of us who are addicts, he is able to help others but unable to help himself. He is quickly finding his synthetic band-aids are unsustainable.

"My mom is on prozac, my brother is on Ritalin, my dad takes Viagra...and then they look at me yell "DON"T DO DRUGS." And I'm like, which ones?"


"This one kid yelled out at another kid "You're so gay!" So I yelled out "Hey, since when did someone's sexual orientation or identity become an insult."


"I don't wanna even be me. I don't even know who ME is? I just want one person to have an honest conversation with me."


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