Water by the spoonful, an award-winning play, directed by Davis McCallum and inscribed by Quiera Alegria Hude, describes the life of Elliot-a soldier- after his return home from the Iraq War. Elliot returns home due to his injury in the War. The Iraq war leaves him with a limp and exposes him to post-traumatic stress disorder. The soldier is haunted by the past and struggles to cope with the present. Additionally, Hude’s Water by the Spoonful displays the impacts of the death of Elliot’s aunt, Ginny. As Elliot and Ginny’s daughter, Yaz Ortiz, mourn her death, Odessa-Ginny’s sister and Elliot’s birth mother- connect with a group of people recovering from drug addiction on an online platform –narcotics anonymous- a chat room where she is the host. The paper focuses on the role played by the setting of the play in terms of time, place, and the environment- both physical and social-, its importance, and how characters interact with it. The paper also concentrates on how the character’s relationship with the setting connects with their development as well as the differences between the real space and the online spaces.
The play’s geographical setting is in four locations; California, Philadelphia, Japan, and Puerto Rico. Elliot, Yaz, Odessa, Ginny, and Fountainhead all live in Philadelphia. Chutes & Ladders live in San Diego, and Orangutan is in Japan all physically. However, there is an online forum Narcotics, which Yazmin refers to as ‘a living breathing ecosystem’ created to bring together addicts and recovering addicts by Odessa as Haikumom, where they all connect without any limitation like time zone differences. On the platform, Elliot, Odessa, and Yaz are related by blood while Orangutan, Chutes&Ladders, and Fountainhead choose to be related to them. The purpose of the Narcotics anonymous is to help the characters recovering from drug addiction, figure out the obstacles, and rise above that. Some of the play’s challenges are drug addiction, trauma, wrong career choice, and wrongful marriage. The two families-‘real world’ and ‘online world’- help each other to recover from their unfulfilled lives. The environment depicted here is that of the current world, where one feels connected and still is lonely. Physically, there is no connection, but socially through cyberspace, they can interact. Hude’s Water by the Spoonful reveals the current world as more of virtual than physical. It is easier to open up in a virtual world than in the physical world. There is less judgment. Keeping up with a healthy life is not easy, and neither is healing from childhood wounds and gaps left by parents or guardians.
Haikumom creates an online network to facilitate the recovery of the drug addicts that decide to come together. They hardly know much of each other. They have not experienced what the other character has experienced. They try as much as possible to learn from each other’s experiences. They do not have much of the physical contact, but they majorly share their emotional struggles and unfulfilled desires. Haikumom herself is an ex-crack addict who forsakes her children in her quest for drugs. Odessa alias Haikumom has failed as a mother, but she creates this online forum of hope for ex-crack users to feel inspired and recover fully. Some of them, like likFountainheadad, have found it challenging to open up about their battle with addiction as successful as he is. These individuals might never meet each other in real life considering their line of life- student, financier, and IRS pusher, but they can make a strong bond like that of siblings related by blood. Despite their online relationship, their commitment to each other is real.
The characters try and understand each other regardless of their flaws. They all have struggles and ways to vent out, which in this case has been drug abuse. For the chat room to work, they have to come together for the recovery to go through. Hude shows the differences in the families that we are born into and the families that we find along the way. They break boundaries in that they are not scared of internet predators and any dangerous interactions. They are not limited to geographical positions or cultural settings such as age, gender, race, and physical ability. The porous environment created gives everyone a chance to let out their emotions and seek help. They can learn how to communicate and how not to communicate. The community has a code of conduct and a sense of responsibility by becoming each other’s accountability partner. We see this when Haikumom anFountainheadad meets up, and she tells him that a sober day is a solemn day for her and that he should not take that lightly.
To sum it all up, battling drug addiction and recovering from it is not a walk in the park. Drug addiction can be a result of different factors such as stress, inadequacy, and search for a sense of belonging or a challenging life experience. However, it is manageable through acceptance and family connections that stand with you and by you.
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