educator, writer, director, performer Cargiver Collage An Oral History Reader’s Theatre Script © 2009 by Douglas Hill Click here for a PDF file of the complete script. CAUTION:  Professionals and amateurs are hereby warned that Caregiver Collage is subject to a royalty. It is fully protected under the copyright laws of the United States of America, and of all countries covered by the International Copyright Union (including the Dominion of Canada and the rest of the British Commonwealth), and of all countries covered by the Pan-American Copyright convention and the Universal Copyright Convention, and of all countries with which the United States has reciprocal copyright relations. All rights, including professional and amateur stage performing, motion picture, recitation, lecturing, public reading, radio broadcasting, television, video or sound taping, all other forms of mechanical or electronic reproduction, such as information storage and retrieval systems and photocopying, and the rights of translation into foreign languages, are strictly reserved. Inquiries concerning all rights should be addressed to the author at Douglas@dhdrama.com When I was asked to write this script based on the actual experiences of caregivers, I was at the time nothing more than a tourist in the world of caregiving: an outsider with no background in the emotional, physical, and mental demands of providing support for another adult day in and day out.  I knew people who were caregivers, but I’d never had a meaningful discussion with them about the experience. This script was to be the culmination of six Friday workshops on caregiver support for the Las Vegas community.  The workshops were hosted by the UNLV Gerontology Program and the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health.  I would sit in on the first four weeks of workshops and take notes as fast and furiously as possible, ask the workshop participants for written notes of their experiences if they wished to remain anonymous, and of course research caregiving at the library and online.  I would revise and refine the script over the fifth week and begin rehearsing the script with brave and trusting students from the UNLV Senior Adult Theatre Program for a performance on the sixth Friday.  Because the parameters of this project only allowed for a brief rehearsal period, I decided to fashion the script into a reader’s theatre performance, rather than a “straight play” with scenes.  This would eliminate blocking and memorization rehearsals, and relieve the added stress of technical demands.  The reader’s theatre style would also allow me to capitalize on the feeling of isolation that many caregivers expressed to me.  The script rarely uses dialogues, and instead focuses on the solo perspective – even though that perspective may be shared by many other characters on stage, the solo voice believes they are speaking alone.  There have been several famous scripts written in the past that feature the challenge of a protagonist afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, or other degenerative diseases of the body and mind.  I specifically chose not to include that type of character in this script.  I wanted the audience to remain focused on the characters that are often overlooked in those tragedies: the caregiver. I also chose to write a one-act script rather than a full-length play.  I was concerned that an hour and a half (or more) of caregiver stories would desensitize the audience to the subject matter, and cause them to lose empathy and respect for the people in these events. Finally, I knew that I absolutely had to find polar emotions in these stories without disrespecting the people who had lived through them.  The script uses sarcasm, wit, and farce to present a more complete vision of caregiving which can often be fraught with pain, loneliness, and fear. The “Caregiver Collage” is the result of the contributions of many different people.  I have taken liberties with almost all stories, blended characters, interwoven details from various sources, and structured the pieces with poetic license.  I can’t claim that the script is faithful, but I can state with absolute conviction that the script is honest regarding the stories that were shared with me.  After receiving feedback from the cast and from audience members, I continued to revise the script over the next year. Having presented the “Caregiver Collage” in several different venues, I can say that the experience is most effective when it is immediately followed by a moderated audience response.  In almost all instances, I have had the pleasure of watching Susan Hirsch from the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health lead these discussions.  An absolute expert, she is able to carefully guide the audience members through intimate responses that validate a wide variety of experiences while still maintaining the unity of the audience. The original cast included Helen Bagne Kathy Futa Paul Harris Vince Raggazo Gail K. Romero Sandy Runkle Marion Stedman Harriet Stich First performed on November 13, 2009 on the UNLV Campus