Patricia Doctor, a teacher's aide at Hopevale in Hamburg for more than 23 years, is a playwright in her free time.
The East Side resident has been drawn to telling other people's stories since she was in her teens. The curtain will go up on Doctor's latest production, "Darlene's Story," at 7 tonight at the Forbes Theater in the Buffalo Christian Center, 512 Pearl St.
It tells the story of young woman who suffered sexual molestation and incest at a young age, became involved early with drugs and alcohol, endured physically abusive relationships with men, had several pregnancies and, ultimately, became infected with HIV/AIDS.
Doctor not only wrote the play, but produced, directed and cast it with non-actors.
"I wanted everyday people to do the show," Doctor said in a recent telephone interview. "I think people could relate to ordinary people."
The lead character in "Darlene's Story" is real and raw and based on an actual person she met about a year and a half ago following a performance of "A Choice," another of Doctor's reality-based productions with a Christian message.
The woman, who wanted to tell Doctor how much she enjoyed the play, eventually began to share details of her own harrowing life, which Doctor soon realized would be good fodder for a new show that eventually became "Darlene's Story."
"It took me about a year to write her story. She told me to go online to get her story, and I connected with an HIV organization and [details of] her story were online," he said. "My challenge was to take this story and put it into a play. It was a challenge, because I don't usually write stories like this."
"I'm trying to reach people that are in this type of lifestyle to let them know that there is a way out, especially [for] a lot of teens. We use quite a few young people in the play," she said.
"It's a gift, writing plays. I've been writing plays since I was a teenager. It just came natural to me," Doctor added.