Arts and Health Partner to Raise Awareness on Aging-Related Illness

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On Monday, June 24, 2013, the Alliance Theatre, with partners Arbor Terrace and the Emory University Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, will present a reading and discussion of Absence, the moving story of Helen, an iron-willed, indomitable woman who finds herself suffering from memory loss.  As her sense of self dissolves with her memories, Helen struggles to find meaning in her new existence.  Absence is an excitingly theatrical play about aging, power, grace and imagination.  Additional sponsors of this reading include Kiker Wealth Management and The Elder and Disability Law Firm of Victoria L. Collier, PC.

The sponsors will also host a Dementia Resource Reception before the reading and a post-reading discussion with Dementia Care Expert Teepa Snow, Elder Care Consultant Nancy Kriseman, Emory Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center’s Susan Peterson-Hazan, and Playwright Peter M. Floyd.   Resource Reception guests include: The Atlanta Area Agency on Aging, Leading Age GA & The Center for Positive Aging, Emory Center for Aging and Wesley Woods Hospital, The Alzheimer’s Association, The Lewy Body Dementia Association, The Parkinson’s Association, The Veteran’s Center for Visual and Neurocognitive Rehabilitation, Jewish & Family Career Services, The Fountainview Center for Alzheimers, The Weinstein Center for Adult Day Services, The Dorothy C. Benson Center for Seniors, Lifespan Senior Resources, GA Assisted Living Federation of America, Visting Nurse/Hospice Atlanta, Senior Helpers, ADA Medical Supply, Aging Options, Plymouth Harbor Daycare, and Personal Care, Inc.

“We are honored that Arbor Terrace and Emory wanted to use this play as a vehicle to promote dialogue, education and awareness around dementia,” said Alliance Theatre Director of New Projects Celise Kalke.  “The reading is an example of the Alliance’s commitments to new work and community engagement working together.”

“I have a personal stake in this play,” said Playwright Peter M. Floyd.  “My mother is suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease. Writing this has been something of an attempt for me to explore what the world must be like for someone whose very sense of reality is in flux, a way to understand what my mother is experiencing.”

A power cast of Atlanta actors have been assembled for this reading, directed by Horizon Theatre Co-Artistic Producing Director, Lisa Adler.  The central character, Helen, will be played by Atlanta theatre veteran Brenda Bynum (Good People, August: Osage County).  Helen’s resentful daughter will be played by Carolyn Cook (August: Osage County).  Others in the cast include Andrew Benator (Good People), Tom Thon and Kathryn David.

Absence was discovered by the Alliance through its annual Alliance/Kendeda National Graduate Playwriting Competition when it was chosen as one of the four finalists.  Through the competition, Absence was awarded a development opportunity at the Lark Play Development Center in New York and had its first reading at the Alliance Theatre in February, 2013.  The June 24th encore reading kicks off the Alliance’s 10th Anniversary Season of the Alliance/Kendeda Competition which will be commemorated with monthly readings of plays by competition finalists and an entire season on the Hertz Stage devoted to new plays by past winners.

The Alliance National Graduate Playwriting Competition solicits plays from the leading MFA graduate programs in the United States, and then conducts a rigorous selection process to find four finalists and one winning play.  The winner receives a full production as part of the Alliance Theatre regular season.  A one-of-a-kind opportunity for emerging playwrights, the Competition transitions student playwrights to the world of professional theatre.

Staged Reading of Absence by Peter M. Floyd

Where:  Alliance Theatre, 1280 Peachtree Street NE, Atlanta GA 30309

When: Monday, June 24, 2013

  • 6 p.m. – 7 p.m.: Dementia Resource Reception – Music, appetizers and many Atlanta based helpful resources, information and support relevant to caregivers and families dealing with dementia
  • 7 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.: Absence Reading on the Alliance Stage
  • 8:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.: Post-reading discussions with:
    • Peter M. Floyd, Playwright
    • Nancy Kriseman, LCSW, Elder Care Consultant, Arbor Terrace
    • Teepa Snow, MS, OTR/L, FAOTA, Dementia Care Expert, Arbor Terrace
    • Susan Peterson-Hazan, MSW, LCSW, Emory Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center

Ticketing Information: This reading is free and open to the public.  An RSVP is requested.  Please RSVP to the Alliance Theatre Box Office by calling 404-733-5000.

Synopsis:

Absence – by Peter M. Floyd, Boston University

Helen Bastion is 74 years old, but age has not taken its toll on this matriarch’s will or her need to control her family, from her compliant husband David to her resentful daughter Barb. But when she begins to suffer lapses of memory, her steely facade begins to crumble. Words lose their meaning and reality fragments, as Helen’s own sense of self starts to dissolve. Is she truly disappearing, or is she becoming something greater?  An excitingly theatrical and surprising play about aging, power, grace and imagination.