Date of Completion


Degree Type

Honors Thesis


Health & Human Sciences (HHSC)

First Advisor

Nenad Pervan


Actors inquire into the physical, mental, and emotional impulses of their respective characters in the effort to develop a cohesive persona for the stage. The goal of this research is to determine whether a more thorough, scientific understanding of the physiopyschological phenomena a character experiences, specifically opioid withdrawal, will aid in the depiction of symptoms on stage. The project began with a research period and culminated in physical dissemination through theater performance. Both video, audio, and text media were utilized to establish a thorough comprehension of the physiological mechanisms in opioid addiction. Further profiling of the characteristics and symptomatic episodes of addicted persons were emphasized in the research period to be implemented and represented in rehearsal. The rehearsal process was comprised of three-four hours of rehearsal for seven weeks and included both individual character work with the director as well as scene work with fellow actors. Six shows in total were performed in the Barnelle Theater and research was found to be particularly applicable in Act 1, Scene 2 of the show. Physical symptoms of withdrawal, such as hot and cold sweats, muscular cramping, shaking, and physical anxiety, were mimicked and integrated into performance to convey opioid dependence. It was determined that understanding the science behind the symptoms allowed for a more realistic depiction of addiction in performance. Further research should include in-person testimony and interviews from individuals who have experienced substance abuse, withdrawal, and addiction.