Scott Payne - Clinical team member
“You’re Worth It” is an honest depiction of people experiencing suicidal thoughts and their community’s response to signs of these thoughts. This play captures real life struggles and shares resources for helping when the struggles lead from thoughts to behavior.
The playwright and production team handle sensitive information in a caring and yet entertaining way. The play provides solid mental health information while addressing spirituality and its role in prevention of suicide.
“You’re Worth It” is a labor of love which serves as a new model in raising awareness and preventing suicide deaths in our communities.
Will Dorsey IV, Director
Knowing that you are worth it is such and impactful way to uplift the community and provide open hearts to have real conversations about the realities of life. This production did that in may ways, from the drama and comedy to the relationships and genuine message. This is a production that the world needs to see as it could save lives by letting them know just how much the are Worth It
Chip Mack - played Dad in the play
Very rewarding to participate in the play loved the message and how it’s helping in these times Happy Thanksgiving.
Clinical Team Leader Lisa Wilkerson
This was truly an amazing performance. The scenes and actors were so relevant and authentic. The energy and emotion applied to the season of challenges our youth are facing today. The most impactful part was witnessing hope and help for the silently hurting folks in the audience. Many attendees left the show with resources in their hands to get the help that they or someone in their family needed. This play is a must-see for everyone because it addresses the invisible wounds no one can see. I witnessed crying, laughing, and healing, and God was lifted high and glorified throughout the entire performance! So, a Kingdom impact was memorably made.
Playwriter Tonya Stoutt-Brown
Yes, Amen, and Hallelujah! The closest word I can think of to describe this event is “WOW”! What an amazing experience from start to finish. There were many people that I spoke to last night that had awesome things to say. What a mighty GOD we serve! I am honored and blessed to have been chosen to be a part of something great. You all are gifted and you brought it last night. God has used this play to touch many lives. I love that we met and had this precious time carved out of our lives to connect. I also wanted to say on the heels of “you’re worth it”, whatever you are going through in your lives right now, “it is not over until you WIN”! I have been praying for each of you and will continue to pray that “He who began a good work in you is able to complete it”.
Female cast member
When I got the audition material for this play, I didn’t know Tonya or any of the cast members. I’m a member of a talent agency, and I get casting calls all the time. I treated it like any other audition—I wasn’t thinking about saving any lives…least of all, my own. At the time, I thought about death almost every day. Not necessarily killing myself, but just death. I would imagine how the people I left behind would feel. An idea began to form in my mind that, after the initial shock, other people wouldn’t care much. I didn’t think I was worth it. When I got my acceptance email and read the script, I remember thinking it was almost funny that the play was about suicide and being “Worth It” and how that was so unrelatable to me. When I went to the first rehearsal and read through the lines, I started to realize — this was powerful stuff. I thought it was entirely possible that this could save some people. Still, I never thought it could be me. As rehearsals passed, I was still having those thoughts of “nobody cares”. But then I realized, every time I thought that, my mind was directed back to the play. “No, someone needs me,” I would think. “The cast needs me, Ms. Tonya needs me, and someone needs me out there, someone whose life I’m going to save.” It wasn’t until one of the last rehearsals that I realized—the person who needs me most is myself. I didn’t know it, but each and every rehearsal brought me closer to realizing that I was WORTH IT!!!!
- Two of “Eden’s veterans” (men she met as a result of participating in the American Legion Oratorical last spring) came to the performance last night. One served in Vietnam (and was personal guard to Werner Von Braun, which I find really cool). The other served in various locations for 20 years from the mid-1980s till early 2000s. I asked them what their impressions were and whether there was anything they found inappropriate/offensive or especially powerful/meaningful. They both agreed that it is an incredibly meaningful/necessary/powerful portrayal. One thought the portrayal of internal struggles of veterans was so real. The other thought that the message of “don’t stay quiet b/c you’re afraid of offending” is so incredibly necessary to be heard. Both loved the visual drama of Creere, as it really encapsulates the entire message of Christ being with us no matter how dark, how dreadful, how hopeless a situation seems. They were both very grateful to you for the vast amount of passion and effort and creativity you poured into this production
Kid Pastor Natasha Warren
I spoke with a man whose father – a veteran – had committed suicide. He said he had felt exactly what Kylie said in her lines. I spoke with a Viet Nam veteran who said it was the most realistic portrayal he’d ever seen of what it’s like to be a soldier coming home from war. I spoke to a man who said he’d seen a lot of church presentations, but he had never seen such a vivid and accurate picture of the spiritual warfare a believer goes through as he did in Creere’. I had several people share with me that they had loved ones who had committed suicide or had come close to it. They commented on how deeply the show impacted them. And then there were so, so many comments (I can’t even count them all) about how talented you all are, and simply what a great show it was. But it’s not limited to the audience. The process of putting this show together has deeply impacted me, and I hope it’s meant something special to you, too.
Dr. Scott - audience
I just wanted to add that through working at the VA, I knew many of the audience members last night. Not only the Veterans but also some VA mental health professionals and mental health leadership were present, and they were all deeply impacted by the show and filled with emotion. Everyone I spoke with felt it was incredibly well done as well as courageous and unique in its approach and message.
On a personal note, I just want to take the opportunity to say, as a non-theater person and as someone who has had more of an opportunity than many of you to be an observer during rehearsals, what an amazing and inspirational experience this has been for me, and what an honor it has been to be involved with this show and this group of people even in a small way. And how truly great and talented each of you are! When Ed approached me about participating, I asked for a non-speaking part, so that gives you an idea where I’m coming from, in terms of my comfort zone. I also am going through a difficult family situation and wondered if it was a good time to do this. And then to see how much I came to look forward to rehearsals as a source of energy and regular boost of inspiration! It turned out to be exactly the perfect time to be involved in something larger than myself and something so beautiful and uplifting.
It has been such a privilege and inspiration to me to be able to witness so much talent and hard work come together to make this show happen. Seeing it go from that first raw script reading, through all of Tonya’s brilliant direction and fine tuning during rehearsals, to the show presented last night is something that is familiar to most of you as the normal artistic process, but it absolutely blew me away! The energy and talent and commitment of the actors and performers, especially our many so gifted younger cast members, kept me in a perpetual state of awe. I would imagine each of you would say that you have been forever changed with each production you’ve ever done. Without knowing it, and more than you could possibly know, you have all been such an enormous blessing in my life and brought me closer to God at a time when I needed it.
I also want to wish each of you a blessed life. I know each of you will go on to do many more amazing things!
Dr. Drew - male cast member
- I wanted to let you know that we had another cast member who was evidently suicidal and we didn’t even know it. The mother tells me the student’s behavior had recently changed and after the parents took away some privileges, the student sunk into a very dark place. The student’s phone was confiscated, and the parents found some things that were out of character – and then a couple of suicidal SnapChat posts. The mother says “we didn’t know!” The mother also says the process of this play has been so wonderful for their child, and they feel like they’re on their way to getting their child back because of it.
Playwright Tonya Stoutt-Brown
I was very impressed with the play. The manner in which they brought Veteran and Teen Suicide to the same conversation was great. I thought the use of the talent show was both entertaining as well as a great context for the message of the play. The message of faith was evident, but not overpowering where folks that do not subscribe to faith would be offended. The message of worth it allowed for other ways of understanding how someone could help.
Veteran Elton Jones
Letter to the creator(s) Playwrights and those involved in brainstorming,
Foremost, thank you for taking time towards this project for mental health advocacy in the East Tennessee area and beyond. I, Martina, do not claim to be a licensed professional so everything stated in this letter is purely from my own perception and opinion, not medical licensed advice. Also, I do not claim to be a playwright; therefore, caution all those involved to take my opinion with a grain of salt if any of my ideas seem unrealistic for production. I have been involved with acting and technical production since 2010 in the surrounding area, so I am not totally unaware of the capabilities and limits of a script.
I am interested in the adaption of Tonya’s play to a piece that caters to Young Adult / Adolescent audiences. Thank you, Tonya, for being so generous to share your intellectual property with the community.
The main components of the revised/new script I would love to see are as follows:
- The scene right before intermission to include a Trigger Warning encoded in the script so that those who suffer from PTSD (this can be teens as well as adult veterans) are notified if they want to sit out the upcoming Whatever this scene may contain (possibly violence such as Tonya’s protagonist enacted, or something further such as an unsuccessful suicide or explicit talk/speech of suicide or sexual assault) must be mentioned as a trigger warning in the playbook or brochure. Many views trigger warnings as a generational “issue” or “concern,” but I would not want to trigger those of any generation, so I feel it benefits that at-risk audience rather than “spoils” the plot.
- The main message of the play is something along the lines of — even if an individual has struggled with depression, anxiety, PTSD, childhood or adult trauma, bipolar disorder, , they are worthy, strong, and will be supported even through periods of relapse.
- Modify the script placing yourself in the spot of a non-believing, or non-faithful, teenager or as a previous youth mentor, I can say about half of the students who confided in me were struggling with their religious faith on top of mental health struggles. As much as faith is a great supplement to improve mental health, serious cases require professional intervention instead of just a few Bible verses are thrown their way.
- For many, depression does not disappear the moment you find so perhaps the play should not end on that note but have an extra scene or two about the possibility of relapse or acknowledgment that you Cannot do it alone. Even if you are faithful, you must have support in your community and home.