Losing a parent to incarceration is an issue faced by an alarming number of youth in St. Louis and across the country. Metro Theater Company, an A&E grantee, sheds light on this issue with the world premiere of “Games Dad Didn’t Play.”

Tailored to youth grades two through eight, “Games Dad Didn’t Play” tells the story of Lucas, a young boy whose father has been incarcerated, and his attempt at getting a fresh start in a new town, new school and new life. Throughout the play, Lucas struggles with his father’s absence, which he copes with by imagining a new dad who had never hurt anyone. Despite his efforts to forget, Lucas realizes he must confront the past in order to move forward with his future.

Lucas’ experience reflects the experience of the numerous children whose parents have been incarcerated, and makes a powerful statement about the way that we view incarcerated individuals as a society. Often, these individuals and their families may be stigmatized by the incarceration, rather than embraced as part of our community. 

“Just because someone has been in prison does not make them a bad person, and mistakes don’t make your whole life,” said Kimmy Kidd, who plays Lucas’ mother.

Metro Theater Company presented “Games Dad Didn’t Play” to nearly 300 students on Friday morning in advance of the weekend’s public performances. Through that performance, the actors hope they can give the youth a relatable experience and a guide for navigating life with an incarcerated or absent parent.

“There are a lot of young boys who are going through these same situations, and they kind of need to see something play out, like ‘Hey, I connect to that,’” said Myke Andrews, who plays Lucas. “I hope they leave inspired, I hope they leave feeling full – that boy that might be there because a father or a parent is missing – I hope this show can give them peace of mind.”

Games Dad Didn’t Play is September 16-17 at The Grandel.

For more information on Metro Theater Company and “Games Dad Didn’t Play”, visit metroplays.org.