Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

'Dreamers' take anti-drug message to stage

Just about everything on the makeshift stage was new, including the cushioned footstools with sale tags still dangling and the backdrop mural freshly painted in bright yellow, turquoise, brown and purple.

Nearly 20 years' worth of props, along with vehicles and other equipment, were destroyed during a February fire caused by an electrical short at a city parks and recreation facility near Lowry Park Zoo.

David Jankiewicz, director of the city's Dreamers Against Drugs summer program, had to start over.

But the show, as they say, must go on. So he held auditions at community centers throughout the city, then chose about 10 teens to star in this year's production of a play intended to discourage their peers from the wiles of the streets.

The plays are typically written fresh by the casts, but with all the reinventing he had to do, Jankiewicz used a script written a few years back to simplify things.

Still, this year's teens, called "dreamers," made some important changes.

Charity Marshall, a petite 14-year-old from Tampa Heights who plays a tough gang leader, was there to help. The old script included words like "cool" and "hip," which have gone the way of MC Hammer and stonewashed jeans. The cast inserted "that's straight" or "that's down," Charity said. It has to be "something now," she said.

In the play, Demario Knight is being inducted into Charity's gang. The 17-year-old Middleton High student was also a dreamer last year.

"I like to entertain people, to entertain kids," Demario said.

He's familiar with the life situations acted out in the play. Peers have asked if he wanted to do drugs, although he hasn't felt particularly pressured — he easily blows them off.

"I just say, 'No, I'm good,' " Demario said. "I don't drink. I don't smoke."

Charity has also seen the evils of the streets, but she said her mother works for the women's prison system so she has been taught right from wrong.

The diverse group of teens sat inside the community center on E Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard this week.

Some, including Lynn Kathryn Grissom and Danette Trimboli, had come from as far away as Temple Terrace and New Tampa.

Several had experience acting. Zoe Kaye, 16, of South Tampa, learned about the play from her drama teacher at Plant High School. And 13-year-old Savanna Morrow said she has performed in community theater productions.

But the 30-minute musical with strangers who became friends was a bit different. "It's a new experience," Savanna said.

Jankiewicz started the program in 1989 to get kids to discourage other kids from getting involved with drugs. The program became an annual line item, including pay for the actors. This year they'll get about $350 to $400 each, Jankiewicz said.

Practices began June 10. Things have been hectic with having to coordinate things, buy new props and equipment, and, of course, work with the kids. The cast was expected to have the final dress rehearsal today..

Earlier this week, Jankiewicz walked briskly back and forth in the practice room, scrutinizing the kids' moves and making changes.

The actors rehearsed "singing out," finding the appropriate key and remembering lyrics:

Can't stop the hurt, can't stop the pain that continues all through your life. Falling like rain, out of the sky, for the price of a high …

Later, Jankiewicz had the kids push the footstools offstage to prepare for the introductory scene.

An assistant pushed "play" on the tape recorder and a Shaft-sounding tune set the tone. Zoe and Demario emerged in character, greeting each other with a cool — excuse me, down — handshake routine. Other players appeared, along with Charity.

With her most serious expression, she turns to a fellow "gangster" and gets to the point of the drama and of Jankiewicz's efforts to teach kids a better way:

"You got the drugs?" she asks.

>>If You Go

The musical

Dreamers Against Drugs will perform a
30-minute show in various places beginning next week. The shows are free and open to the public. More dates may be added.

Monday: 10:30 a.m. at the NFL YET Center at Jackson Heights, 3310 E Lake Ave.; 1:30 p.m. at Rey Park Community Center 2301 N Howard Ave.

Tuesday: 10:30 a.m. at Shriners Hospital for Children, 12502 Pine Drive; 1:30 p.m. at George Bartholomew North Tampa Center, 8608 N 12th St.

Wednesday: 10 a.m. at Rey Park Community Center, 2301 N Howard Ave.; 1:30 p.m. at NFL YET Center at Jackson Heights, 3310 E Lake Ave.

July 8: 1:30 p.m. at Wilber Davis/Belmont Boys & Girls Club, 3515 Sarah St.

July 14: 10:30 a.m. at Temple Crest Community Center, 8116 N 37th St.; 1:30 p.m. at Nick Capitano Boys & Girls Club, 1218 E Kay St.

For information, call Andrew Schlosberg at (813) 789-0167.

'Dreamers' take anti-drug message to stage 06/26/08 [Last modified: Friday, June 27, 2008 9:56am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. ICYMI: Florida education news in review, week of July 16, 2017


    Seems like Broward County has started a domino effect. It was the first school board to commit to filing a lawsuit against the state and its controversial education bill, House Bill 7069. Then, the St. Lucie County School Board signed on, too. A running tally of school boards that have reportedly expressed interested in …

    Kali Davis (left), training director for Springboard to Success, helps to coach Justin Black (center), who will be starting his third year of teaching PE at Melrose Elementary, as he works to instruct students in a math lesson during the Spring Board program of Summer Bridge at Woodlawn Elementary School in St. Petersburg.
  2. In advertising, marketing diversity needs a boost in Tampa Bay, nationally


    TAMPA — Trimeka Benjamin was focused on a career in broadcast journalism when she entered Bethune-Cookman University.

    From left, Swim Digital marketing owner Trimeka Benjamin discusses the broad lack of diversity in advertising and marketing with 22 Squared copywriter Luke Sokolewicz, University of Tampa advertising/PR professor Jennifer Whelihan, Rumbo creative director George Zwierko and Nancy Vaughn of the White Book Agency. The group recently met at The Bunker in Ybor City.
  3. Kushner to testify before two intelligence committees


    WASHINGTON— President Donald Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner is set to make a second appearance on Capitol Hill — he will speak with the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, one day after he is scheduled to speak with Senate Intelligence Committee investigators behind closed doors.

    White House senior adviser Jared Kushner is scheduled to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee and the House Intelligence Committee. [Associated Press]
  4. Rays blow lead in ninth, lose in 10 to Rangers (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Rays manager Kevin Cash liked the way Alex Cobb was competing Friday night. He liked the way the hard contact made by the Rangers batters went away after the second or third inning. So as the game headed toward the ninth, there was no doubt in Cash's mind that sending Cobb back to the mound was …

    Rays starter Alex Cobb can hardly believe what just happened as he leaves the game in the ninth after allowing a leadoff double then a tying two-run homer to the Rangers’ Shin-Soo Choo.
  5. Exhumation of Dalí's remains finds his mustache still intact


    FIGUERES, Spain — Forensic experts in Spain have removed hair, nails and two long bones from Salvador Dalí's embalmed remains to aid a court-ordered paternity test that may enable a woman who says she is the surrealist artist's daughter to claim part of Dalí's vast estate.

    Salvador Dal? died in 1989 leaving vast estate.