By CHRIS FASOLINO
---- — PLATTSBURGH — A local man portrays more than 25 characters in a one-man play that explores the psychology of addiction.
In “Support,” Tim Wagoner of Champlain plays both addicts and those in their lives who are affected. The addictions dealt with in the show, which he wrote, include not only drug abuse and alcoholism but dependencies on shopping, tanning and video games.
The show, which was recently performed at the Champlain Valley Christian Center in Plattsburgh, was based on an independent-study project that Wagoner completed last year as a theater major at SUNY Plattsburgh.
Wagoner, 29, said he was first inspired by his experience helping a friend who was dealing with addiction.
“I look at it as a way to get a dialogue going about addiction,” he said of the performance.
In fact, “Support” concludes with what Wagoner calls a “talk-back,” where audience members can give their reaction.
“Based on the talk-back last time, I re-worked some things and added some characters.”
He also connected the characters, using a support group to frame the piece.
Wagoner would like to continue holding performances of “Support.”
“I like the idea of a found space — having a place that opens up for the show and seeing what capabilities it has.”
Then, as an actor, he can work with that space — whether it consists only of chairs or whether there are also lighting and sound capabilities available.
One of those in attendance at the show was Carol Lipszyc, a professor in the English Department at SUNY Plattsburgh, who was one of Wagoner’s teachers.
She recalled working with him when he was in her class about writing poetry.
“He was a marvelous student. I looked forward to facing him because the eyes were so receptive — you could see when something was a trigger. It was like fire.”
She knew that he would bring such enthusiasm to his script and his acting, as well.
“He is very special because of the maturity, the humility and the imagination that he brings to creative writing.”
Another audience member, Jeff Hughey of Plattsburgh, said after the performance that he was impressed by Wagoner’s ability to make the characters come to life. He was also intrigued by his own reactions to those characters.
“Sometimes judgment set in,” he admitted, causing him to analyze his own feelings. “Other times, I wanted to push back the chairs and console the character.”
On the whole, he said, “it didn’t take long to have compassion for the characters.”
Likewise, Wagoner noted himself that one of the advantages for him in writing and acting the piece was learning to relate to the characters more, with their different circumstances and problems.
“The process gave me sympathy and empathy.”
In order to write and play the characters, he said, he had to “believe in what they’re going through.”