Chosen by a juried panel from over 90 submissions from the U.S. and other countries, the three professionally crafted plays contained in The MemoryCare Plays anthology strive to dramatize the full impact of progressive memory disorders upon the individual, and to illustrate the richness and complexity of the caregiving relationship, with all of its challenges and rewards.
As Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia become increasingly prevalent, the dramatic arts can help provide needed insight and understanding into this looming societal challenge. The MemoryCare Plays are edited by Dr. Margaret A. Noel, founder of MemoryCare, a non-profit charitable organization in Asheville, NC, that provides integrated services for persons with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias and their caregivers. The plays include Steering Into the Skid by Deborah Ann Percy and Arnold Johnston, In the Garden by Matthew Widman, and Riding the Waves by L.E. Grabowski-Cotton. Each work in this anthology is introduced by its author. The anthology is available through Amazon.com.
Steering Into the Skid focuses on Amanda and Tim, both in their sixties, and in twelve short scenes set in their SUV traces a year in their life together from New Year’s Day to New Year’s Eve. As the months pass, the changes wrought by advancing age and Alzheimer’s disease force each character to adjust to new demands on their imperfect but loving marriage.
In the Garden portrays a family in crisis. Beloved father Arthur is fighting a losing battle with Alzheimer’s disease and his three grown children, Peter, Karen and Jamie have gathered at the family house to decide what to do. But the choices are not easy. While Arthur may wander off at times, or lash out in anger or forget the names of his grandchildren, at other times he is lucid, funny, and wise. Long ingrained familial tensions boil to the surface as Peter, Karen, and Jamie struggle to treasure their father’s last cogent moments before he is lost to them forever.
Riding the Waves tells the story of Isabel Epstein, a woman suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, and the struggles her son and daughter experience as a result. The inspiration for this play was the idea that the ocean could serve as a metaphor for the coming and going of memories. The waves interweave both Isabel’s past and present so that the reader or audience experiences the plight of an individual with Alzheimer’s.
All proceeds from this anthology will be donated to benefit families affected by dementia. Originally performed as a benefit for MemoryCare, the playwrights have generously agreed to allow MemoryCare to grant other nonprofit organizations dedicated to dementia care the opportunity to utilize their work for educational, advocacy or fundraising events, provided that all profits raised from any such event will be applied to the care or support of persons affected by dementia. The MemoryCare Plays incorporates the details for non-profits that would like to use these one-acts and provides discussion questions for each play.
Dr. Noel states, “The MemoryCare Plays, all by widely published and produced playwrights, are beautifully crafted and poignantly portray different aspects of the challenges posed by progressive memory disorders. These plays, whether read or staged, are rich with resources to educate a community; they provide authentic snapshots of how dementia uniquely affects individuals, and powerful testimony to its impact on our most intimate relationships.”
Lisa Gwyther, Director of the Duke Family Support Program and co-author of The Alzheimer’s Action Plan, says,
“This is universally accessible pure art offering rich, intimate, poignant and existentially complex moments in family life. You will find yourself being swept up in a kaleidoscope of time, the true essence of Alzheimer’s disease. You will experience imperfect love, and subtlety leavened with humor, breaking down barriers between ‘us’ and ‘them’. Everything is here in the moment – the poignant, murky and hot-bottom authentic realities of living with memory disorders. You will care deeply for and about these believable individuals struggling to make sense of and maintain increasingly fragile connections. The Memory Care Plays are fresh answers to increasing awareness and reducing stigma of individuals with dementia, and they accomplish this far more artfully than any advocacy messaging campaign to date.”
Dr. Peter Rabins, co-author of The 36 Hour Day observes, “These three extraordinary plays capture the pain and the joy, the confusion and the clarity, and the challenges and rewards of living with Alzheimer disease and caring for someone you love who has the illness.”
Charles OyamO Gordon, Playwright-in-Residence at The University of Michigan and author of Boundless Graceand The Resurrection of Lady Lester, observes, “These three one-acts dramatize the emotional toll when the most complex grid in the human universe, the brain, malfunctions. They also show the value of genuine, loving care. They are simultaneously truthful, enriching, and moving.”
Fiction writer Stuart Dybek, MacArthur Fellow and Whiting Writers’ Award Winner, says, “The Memory Care Plays is a collection that marshals theater’s unique power to confront the human condition with a gaze clear and unwavering, and ultimately all the more compassionate for being so.”