"This is not Mickey Mouse Club for suicide prevention," says Jesse Wilson, writer-actor behind Face the City.
Adds musician-composer and production co-conspirator Eric Long, aka Mad Francis: "We're not trying to change the world. We just want to turn people on to new ideas."
Long, 34, met Wilson, 35, in summer 2007, and the two say they quickly noticed uncanny similarities in the themes of each other's work. Just a year later, they have completed a one-night-only multimedia monologue about facing your city and finding yourself against all the pressure of life, friends and family.
Which begs the question: What is facing your city, beyond finding yourself?
"Finding yourself is in the eye of the beholder," says Long, who also substitute teaches and produces local music. "For man to understand his individuality and his relation to the city, he must first understand himself."
Says Wilson, "It's about dealing with two forces: the past and the future, and living for the now. The city is metaphorical for society and how we exist as individuals ... [and] representative of the demons we have to face."
Wilson says the show, inspired by a childhood friend who committed suicide due to societal pressures, addresses "coming to the crossroads, and dealing with who you are as a person and not who everyone else wants you to be, and not even whom you think you need to be."
As a teacher at Star Academy charter school and FutureSelf (an arts program for "at-risk" teenagers), Wilson has found that if you want people to listen and understand, you need to speak their language. Since Face the City targets young adults especially, it employs an edgy tone and some adult content.
"This show speaks the language," he says. "But there's a message."
For those willing to metaphorically face their own cities, the duo says they'll offer the tools to achieve peace, balance and self-actualization. If it all sounds a bit preachy, just remember nobody's going to be singing, "M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E ... "
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