More information regarding the author of this original play and her suggested reading list. From the Author: Patricia Swan-Smith’s play, A Reason, is based on true events throughout the United States and the experiences she had while providing mental health to inmates in prisons in Wyoming, Montana and Georgia. She moved to Rock Springs in 2018 for a counseling job, and fell in love with the area. The desire to make Rock Springs her home was solidified when she got involved with the Actors Mission. She was on the reader’s committee for the Actors Mission in 2019 and 2020, and she’s enjoyed the behind-the-screen activities.
In 2012, she had purchased a book about how to write screenplays, and started putting some of her experiences on paper. She felt the lack of good mental health services in many of the places she had worked, especially in the prisons, needed to be portrayed. She thought that perhaps writing about it would help highlight the need to address mental health issues before children come of age, repeat the cycle, and often end up in prison.
Then, in 2019 while on the readers committee for the Actors Mission, she shared what she had written with a few of the members, and they encouraged her to turn it into a play. She dove in, and took the screenplay with a cast of about 55 to 13. With suggestions and encouragement from Brad Russell, and after a few rewrites, her dream for “A Reason” has come to life.
She earned a Bachelors in Journalism and Political Science in 1991, and completed two Master’s Degrees in Counseling at the University of Great Falls Montana (2005) and Capella University (2010). She continues to write and is active in providing both therapy and education about trauma and addiction in hopes of continuing a movement to help people heal and start living healthy lives. This play is a part of that effort.
Behind “A Reason” From Patricia Swan-Smith
A Reason was inspired by both my childhood and my careers as a journalist and mental health therapist. I fought the long-term effects of trauma most of my life, and ended up in treatment for trauma, alcohol and gambling in 1990. From that day forward, I continued to learn more and more about how generational trauma and addictions destroy minds, families and communities. Both are treatable, but we have a lot of sub-standard, unaffordable care, and a lot of misunderstanding about posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
PTSD is often seen as the new catch-phrase, and dismissed by many. The truth is unresolved trauma is destructive to all of us—either through increase in taxes, or creating yet another generation of wounded people. PTSD has been used by some to dodge responsibility in a number issues including court cases, which is deplorable. Everyone needs to be held accountable for their actions. At the same time, we really need to start understanding why a lot of people do what they do. From war to rape, car crashes and child abuse and neglect, PTSD is real, and its symptoms often run the show through fear, terror, shame, isolation and rage.
As the play’s name suggests, trauma and addiction are not an excuse for unhealthy behavior, but rather “a reason” many people fall apart and are unable to meet the demands of adulthood. Child and adulthood trauma affects the ability for the body and brain to regulate; research has shown for decades how “normal” development is not even possible for many traumatized children and teens.
The play is not to elicit pity for those who suffer from trauma, addiction or inmates; it is also not to ignite irrational anger toward the justice or corrections systems. I am hoping it will help people become more aware, understanding and active in supporting social changes that include treating trauma and substance use issues early on rather than building more prisons.
I would like to thank Director Brad Russell for his help with this process. His input and creativity with the stage has taken this play beyond anything I could have hoped for. I would also like to thank Co-Director Shane Westfall and those with the Actors Mission for the friendships and encouragement. And thank you so much to the cast! It’s been such an incredible journey to watch all of you turn lines of words into something real. This has been an amazing experience.
Thanks for attending! If you are interested in learning more, I have included a reference list. Take care!
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