By Jamie Zabludowski
For 4 years I was immersed in a very dark heroin addiction. I lost my friends, my family, but most importantly I lost my soul. I was in and out of treatment centers and couldn’t find my inner most self. That is, until I came to Beit T’Shuvah fresh off of being homeless in Florida. I left everything that was familiar to me in Miami without looking back.
I spent two months figuring out how to speak again. Once I found that courage to open up, I joined Freedom Song as an understudy, not really knowing what to expect. Freedom Song is an original musical/play put on by residents and alumni of Beit T’Shuvah. It follows the inspiring real-life stories of 18 addicts sharing a Passover Seder very different than all others. The immensely moving stories and songs form the need for a broader understanding of the disease of addiction. More than a play, Freedom Song is a real life drama that opened my eyes and changed my life.
When I first moved into Beit T’Shuvah I couldn’t form a full sentence. I was completely closed off to everybody–I wasn’t sharing anything about myself, or my past. At first, being a member of the cast was scary. I remember at my first rehearsal, being told, “You need to project! Project Jamie! Project!” And my response was a quiet, “I don’t know how to.” I remember sitting in my room one night with a veteran of the cast and felt as if the words of my character were my own. I realized how similar my story was to my character’s story; in fact they paralleled almost seamlessly.
My first performance was in Irvine about two months ago. I projected and felt every word as I performed. This play has allowed me to find that hidden voice I shut out for so many years. Freedom Song gets every single person in the cast to not hold back and do something different. Who would have thought that I’d go from a homeless heroin addict to performing in front of hundreds of people singing and dancing in a musical?
- Heroin Addiction is a Serious Problem in Afghanistan (news.suite101.com)
- An Addict Crosses a Line, and Is Pulled Back (nytimes.com)