What better person to create and write the script for a stage play which touches on teen suicide than someone who has attempted suicide not once, but twice.
The play, entitled “His Double Life,” will be presented at Georgia State University’s Rialto Center for the Arts in downtown Atlanta for a one-time performance Nov. 11 at 7:30 p.m. during its national tour.
It stars Robyn Charles, daughter of the late recording artist Ray Charles, in the female lead role of Vanessa Clark, opposite David Tolliver of the ’90s rhythm and blues band Men at Large in the lead male role as Matthew Sanders.
According to the play’s producer and writer, Nial Martin, “His Double Life” concerns the plight of Sanders, who has privately struggled for years with his own masculinity and identity. Sanders is also seeking the love of his family, especially his father, a minster, which he is not receiving.
“Matthew is trying to meet the requirements put on his life by his family and his father, such as getting married and being successful in his chosen career but, all the while, he is hiding this deep, dark secret about his own sexuality and masculinity,” Charles said.
Martin said the play also depicts Matthew struggling with alcoholism, and even thoughts of suicide.
“Suicide is very close to me, as I am a survivor of two suicide attempts. I felt, after that, I needed to write a play which not only tells the story of my life in so many ways but that of so many teenagers and adults,” Martin said.
He said people should see the play because of its strong message that family members should maintain a strong dialogue with one another at home “and to love one another for who that person is and not the lifestyle he or she chooses to lead.”
Charles, who is no stranger to Georgia, the subject of perhaps her late father’s most famous song, said she returns to the state on the average of about once a month.
“This play has many messages, but the main one is we should learn to love one another despite what our differences may be,” she said. “Another message I hope our audience draws from this play is that people need to walk in their own individuality and be the person he or she is, despite what other people feel or expect of you.”
Charles described her role in the play “as an excellent fit for me,” because the character she plays is, like herself, a songwriter.
The play is recommended for mature audiences. All tickets for the play are $27.
For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.hisdoublelife.com.