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Dirt: A one man show of substance abuse and choices

WHAT is Dirt?



Dirt is a one-man show that explores the challenges and decisions that young people face every day. 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...



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 a central 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."

"If that kid had cancer we'd say he was so 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 sexual assault and bullying. She is sarcastic in her view of life and often fantasizes about the damage she could do to herself and others if she were pushed too far and unable to control herself. She tolerates living with her mom and stepdad and fights an inner battle against monsters and ghosts while trying not to become one herself.

" 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."


Every town’s “stoner” who sees weed and his actions as harmless. He is musically talented but disconnected and drifting further away from a future filled with real potential. He spends most of his time hanging out with and helping his cousin who is a special education student which makes him likable and perhaps 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 is 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 others who are bullied and maybe even help them, but he is unable to help himself. He is finding his drug use to be more frequent and more problematic.

"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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