The Paper Windmill Theatre Troupe is planning a series of stage performances called the “Save Faustus” program to help youngsters understand the perils of drug abuse.
The troupe plans to stage a three-act drama tentatively titled Young Faustus at 932 junior-high schools across the nation over the next three to five years to warn teenagers about the importance of refusing to “make deals with the devil of drug abuse.”
According to the results of annual tests for contraband materials conducted by the Ministry of Education, the number of urine samples found containing traces of third-grade banned drugs such as ketamine and nimetazepam increased from 104 in 2006 to 1,548 last year.
During that period, the number of junior-high school students caught using ketamine rose from 87 to 598, while the number of senior-high school students found using the banned substance increased from 141 to 1,174. Moreover, 39 elementary-school students were found to have used ketamine.
A 17-year-old from Taitung nicknamed A-ming (阿銘) said he started using ketamine during junior-high school.
“I dropped out of school during my third year. I left home to work and lived with other dropouts. After work, we would ride through the streets of the city, drink, smoke and try various kinds of illegal drugs ... I got addicted and went from using [drugs] a few times a month to once every few days, to once every day. If I didn’t, I would get anxious and easily irritated. Later, I couldn’t work,” A-ming said in an interview.
“I only thought about how to get the NT$3,000 to NT$4,000 needed to buy ketamine. I had neither job nor money. I committed burglaries with my friends or went home to squeeze money from my mother,” he said.
“I was caught stealing several times by police, and none of my relatives were talking to me,” he said.
A-ming did not change his ways until his mother died from cancer due to overwork. After six months of drug rehabilitation, he finally kicked the habit and has regained his health.
“I’m now attending night school and working during the day. The rehab process was arduous, but the memory of my mother helped me overcome the challenge,” A-ming said.
Paper Windmill Cultural Foundation executive director Lee Yung-feng (李永豐) said the idea of staging a play to advise young people to “say no” to drugs came to him during a recent visit to his hometown in Budai (布袋), Chiayi County, when his mother asked him if was using drugs.
“Her question surprised me and led me to understand the seriousness of the problem of drug abuse among teens,” Lee said.
Citing statistics compiled by the Ministry of Justice, Lee said 60 percent of juvenile delinquency was related to drug abuse.
Lee said he believed that through the Young Faustus play, “we can help underaged students find their inner strength and build values that will allow them to resist the temptation of drugs.”