MSIM opens this weekend!

Above: Sally Nutt and CR Marchi, US Army Sgt (ret.) in ACT ONE’s production of Make Sure It’s Me at the West End Studio Theatre in Portsmouth this June.

I’m thrilled to announce that Kate Wenner’s Make Sure It’s Me, a fact-based drama about Traumatic Brain Injury in the military, opens its first fully staged production this Saturday, June 1 at the West End Studio Theatre in Portsmouth! Every performance will be followed by a talkback with members of the medical and military communities, as well as MSIM artists.

If you’d like to know more about the show and the terrific development process ACT ONE embarked on nearly 18 months ago, you can visit the MSIM page here. Also, if you’d like to hear our interview on NHPR’s Word of Mouth, click here. Then, come join the conversation at WEST and help us bridge the gulf between military and civilian families in our community.

Here are the details on showtimes and ticket purchase or reservation:

When: June 1-2, 7-9, & 21-23. Fridays, 8 pm / Saturdays 2 pm & 8 pm / Sundays, 2 pm & 7:30 pm

Where: West End Studio Theatre, 959 Islington Street, Portsmouth, NH

Admission: Free for OEF/OIF veterans and families, but please call 603.300.2986 to reserve your seats! 

$20 for General Admission; $18 for seniors or students; and $15 for non OEF/OIF veterans.

To reserve or purchase tickets: Call 603.300.2986 to reserve tickets or purchase online through PayPal at http://www.actonenh.org/ 

       [$1/ticket processing fee for online purchases]

Reservations strongly recommended. The June 22 performance at 2 pm is already sold out!

Please note that we have worked hard to provide free and discounted tickets for military veterans. Every ticket you buy will help us facilitate the participation of military families on tight budgets!

We so look forward to seeing you at WEST! Best wishes to you and your loved ones and thanks again for the support you have given to ACT ONE and Make Sure It’s Me.

MSIM tickets on sale now!

Sally Nutt & C.R. Marchi, US Army SGT (ret) rehearse a scene from "Make Sure It's Me," which runs at WEST starting June 1.

I am delighted to announce that ACT ONE is now accepting reservations for Make Sure It’s Me, our world premiere production of Kate Wenner’s play about five Iraq War veterans with Traumatic Brain Injury and the doctor devoted to helping them. This full-length play, directed by Leslie Pasternack and produced by Stephanie Nugent, will include a talk-back after each performance with members of the MSIM creative team, joined by guests from the medical and military communities.

When: June 1-2, 7-9, & 21-23. Fridays, 8 pm / Saturdays 2 pm & 8 pm / Sundays, 2 pm & 7:30 pm

Where: West End Studio Theatre, 959 Islington Street, Portsmouth, NH

Admission: Free for OEF/OIF veterans and families, but please call 603.300.2986 to reserve your seats! 

$20 for General Admission; $18 for seniors or students; and $15 for non OEF/OIF veterans.

To reserve or purchase tickets: Call 603.300.2986 to reserve tickets or purchase online through PayPal at http://www.actonenh.org/ 

       [$1/ticket processing fee for online purchases]

Reservations strongly recommended. The June 22 performance at 2 pm is already sold out!


Please note that we have worked hard to provide free and discounted tickets for military veterans. Every ticket you buy will help us facilitate the participation of military families on tight budgets!

So PLEASE join us and our stellar cast (Pamela Battin-Sacks, Cliff Blake, Alissa Cordeiro, Beau Fisher, Kim Holliday, C.R. Marchi, Christian Maurice, Angela Molihan, Sally Nutt, and Eric St. Cyr) for this production with costumes designed by Michele Macadaeg and soundscape composed by Jason Crigler, and presided over by stage manager Kate Quisumbing!

For more information about the play and our development process over the last year and a half, please visit the MSIM page or email me for more details. I wish you all a marvelous spring and look forward to seeing you at WEST in June for this special combination of theatre and community discussion!

MSIM/nh Library Series a success!

I want to report that ACT ONE’s Make Sure It’s Me/nh Library Series concluded successfully this week in Hampton! In March and April, our library teams visited Portsmouth, Stratham, Manchester, Nashua and Hampton presenting information about Traumatic Brain Injury in the military, illustrated by scenes from Kate Wenner’s play Make Sure It’s Me.The turnout for these library events wasn’t huge, averaging between 20 and 35 participants. But, in every case, we felt that the people we addressed were positively affected by our presentation and that it was well worth doing. (Below, LTC Steph Riley, Leslie Pasternack, and Conan Marchi [SGT US Army, ret.] at the Nashua Library.)

Each library audience was different and received the information in diverse ways. In Stratham and Manchester, the presence of OEF/OIF and Vietnam vets led to deeply involved discussion. In the other venues, more civilians were present with questions, and if we had veterans with us they did not self-identify. Many of the attendees turned out to be health care providers of some sort, which was great. In Nashua, which was the least vocally responsive group, several silent audience members asked to take stacks of TBI Fact Sheets with them–clearly, a need was being served! Also present in Nashua was the mother of a veteran she suspects has a TBI, but whom she can’t get to the doctor’s office quite yet. She asked for guidance on which resources could help her as a family member trying to cope, so we helped her narrow down our list of resources even further so she had a clear sense of direction.

At every presentation, I felt proud and quite relieved to be able to emphasize our two key messages:

  1. Combat veterans may be injured and not know it.
  2. Many people in New Hampshire are available to help right now.

Again and again, I was able to cite examples of actions taken by the New Hampshire Commission on PTSD and TBI and the Military-Civilian TBI Collaborative, as well as the other organizations I’ve gotten to know from tagging along for the past year. Several times I discussed the work of Jo Moncher, the NH Department of Health and Human Services Bureau Chief for Community Based Military Programs, a role that is unique to New Hampshire. I spoke often of the NH National Guard’s Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. William Reddel’s commitment to partnering with the community to support the state’s citizen soldiers. I was able to speak a bit about initiatives to combat homelessness, and about outreach to the health care community, and about State Trooper Seth Gahr’s tremendous, multi-faceted work educating law enforcement. I spoke of BIANH and the Krempels Center as resources for anyone with brain injury, no matter the cause.

Along the way, we caught the attention of WOKQ news reporter Sam Adams, who brought us into the studio for a radio interview, which he says has garnered more response than any other he’s filed in 7 years! Hopefully that will be re-run before our show opens in June. (Below, Jenny Freeman and Leslie Pasternack in Stratham.)

I could never have been so effective in guiding our MSIM library teams to this success without all the access, information, and involvement of the many individuals and organizations who work day in and day out in service of NH veterans. These folks have welcomed me to their meetings, patiently educated me on military culture, and helped me to understand the medical and social issues around TBI. A couple of months back, Jo Moncher asked me what I would be doing next to serve New Hampshire’s vets. (No pressure, right?)

Well, we’ve learned a lot about the library presentations. We have ideas for improving them. And (dramatic pause), there is interest in helping ACT ONE to fund future MSIM/nh events. Our efforts to expand the program are actually spearheaded by playwright Kate Wenner, who is really impressed with our local, community-based approach. She wants to pursue significant financial support to do more presentations in varied venues, but always with the local focus we’ve used thus far.

So! A proposal is taking shape. Somehow, even if our progress is modest, we will move forward. My visionary Executive Director Stephanie Nugent has put tremendous personal faith and love for community into this pledge to support MSIM, and I can’t thank her enough for making all of this possible. Think about where you would like to see a Make Sure It’s Me presentation in the months to come. And . . . (another dramatic pause). . .

Mark your calendars for the full production of Make Sure It’s Me at the West End Studio Theatre in Portsmouth in June! Tickets will go officially on sale online on May 1, but you can call for reservations any time now at (603) 300-2986 (you’ll talk to Steph Nugent and she’s be delighted to hear from you!). Please tell everyone you know to come to the show, but DO MAKE RESERVATIONS! You can check out schedule details here.

Thanks again for your support of MSIM/nh! Phase One is complete! OO-RAH!!!

Former Cpl. USMC Angela Molihan, Sgt. US Army (ret.) Conan Marchi, & Leslie Pasternack beginning stage combat rehearsals for MAKE SURE IT’S ME. 

CLEAN ROOM wins Spotlight Awards!

I’m thrilled to say that I’ve won two 2012 Seacoast Spotlight on the Arts awards for last fall’s run of Clean Room at WEST! I’m grateful for the recognition by the Portsmouth arts community, and also for the support of all my loved ones and colleagues who have made Clean Room a success through several patient years of development. But the awards were one bright, personal note in a week dominated by stress and concern on a wider scale.

Last Thursday night, I was presenting with the MAKE SURE IT’S ME/nh team at the Nashua Public Library. It had been a peculiar week: I learned about the Boston marathon violence while on the phone with NHPR’s Virginia Prescott–how bizarre to hear such news delivered right into my ear by a journalist I admire and usually listen to on my car radio! The scene in Boston mirrored all too closely the experiences of our characters in Make Sure It’s Me who have suffered blast-induced traumatic brain injury. So, as I prepared for Nashua on Thursday, I worried about framing our presentation in light of the current situation in Boston.

The presentation wasn’t easy that night, but we seemed to provide information and inspiration to some people who needed help. We distributed a lot of our TBI Fact Sheets, so that must be a good sign that something resonated with our audience.

But, as the library team debriefed about the presentation before splitting up for the night, something else was distracting me. My dear friend and MSIM cast member Pam Battin-Sacks was attending the Spotlight Awards show on my behalf that same night, just in case I won anything. I had written her an acceptance speech that explained why I was absent–giving a brief moment of attention to the MSIM project.

So, on the drive back from Nashua, I asked my cast member and car-pooler Conan Marchi to dig out my phone and check my text messages. Pam’s texts popped up: First, “You won Best Original Script!” Conan whooped, I shrieked, and much was the pandemonium as we (slowly and carefully) rolled through Newfields! Then, as we entered Newmarket: “You won Best Actress!

All I can say is, if you have to get great news, do it with a two-time Iraq War vet around. They know how to fist-pump and holler!

So, we rolled triumphantly into my driveway, where my geriatric hound was let loose for a happy bound around the backyard. Sadly, my husband Paul was in an airport in California waiting for a red-eye flight home, so he missed this whooping and bounding frenzy and had to celebrate with me telephonically a little while later.

Such is the life of a passionate but somewhat reclusive theatre artist and country mouse. I’m likely to grab any work-related excuse to avoid the social stress of schmoozing. I had been THRILLED that the awards show was on an MSIM night–I had a righteous reason to keep the scrutiny off me and to place the focus on military families. So there I was, after Conan took off. My dog resumed his place on his bed, and I waited a moment before I picked up the phone to call Paul. It was so, so quiet. In Portsmouth, I knew, the awards show was still wrapping up. In Cambridge and Watertown, I was to learn the next morning, a series of fatal shootings and a police chase were unfolding. The library presentation had been hard work and the faces of several of the attendees stayed with me. They hadn’t spoken, so I couldn’t know–did they suffer brain injury? Were they grieving someone injured, or dead? What had attracted them to the presentation? Why did they sit so silently, staring? When we spoke about TBI, what did they hear?

I called Paul and shared my wins. I called Pam and got all the details about the awards show and her role in it as my proxy. The funniest part, to me: I had been asked to provide a headshot for the Best Actress category. I had provided my standard headshot, but also a picture of me in mask as Stupino. The producers chose Stupino. And so, as Pam came up to collect my award, those in the audience who hadn’t seen Clean Room and don’t know me personally might have asked themselves,

“Who was that masked woman?”

Luckily, they will have the chance to find out in October. My Executive Director Stephanie Nugent has invited me to bring Clean Room back to WEST for Festival 2013. I’m honored and I look forward to sharing Brighina and Stupino with new audiences, as well as old friends. If you’ve never caught my act and would like to know what the fuss is about, check out the Clean Room trailer, created by Shay Willard.

Thanks again for your support, everyone. Stay safe. Protect your head. An award-winning actress told you so.

MSIM in the news, on the airwaves!

WHERE DO I START? The MSIM/nh event series has continued to move across the state. Through our Library Presentations based on Kate Wenner’s play, Make Sure It’s Me, we are sharing facts about blast-induced Traumatic Brain Injury and helping to connect military families with resources that can help. Most importantly, it turns out, we are creating safe spaces for veterans and their families to talk about their experiences with TBI, PTSD, and their journeys through recovery. Our library team is made up of an Iraq War veteran and Purple Heart recipient (Conan Marchi); the Joint Medical Planner and Occupational Health Nurse for the NH National Guard (Lt. Col. Steph Riley); a certified brain injury specialist from the Krempels Center (Jenny Freeman); and two deeply moved theatre artists who are honored to be of service to military families (my ACT ONE Executive Director Stephanie Voss Nugent and me).

As you may have read in my previous post, our visits to the Portsmouth and Stratham libraries were warmly received and eye-opening. They also garnered us some media attention! Sam Adams, news reporter from WOKQ, attended the Portsmouth presentation and promptly invited us into the radio booth for an interview. And so, last week, I brought Steph Riley and Conan Marchi with me to the WOKQ studio and we recorded a 27-minute interview which aired yesterday, April 7th, at 6:30 a.m. and 11:30 p.m. Sadly, it is not available as a podcast, but I hope to wrangle a recording out of Sam that we can post here. Stay tuned for that! Sam was a marvelous interviewer. He made us feel really comfortable as we talked about the issues surrounding TBI in service members. Then we read one scene from Kate’s play–I think it sounded great, and we’ve heard good reviews from those hardy souls who started their day really early or were awake really late to catch the show! Big thanks to WOKQ for the opportunity and to Steph R. and Conan for their willingness to follow this project wherever it needs to go. . .

The same afternoon as the radio interview, we headed over to Manchester for our library presentation there. That’s when we learned that Barbara Taormina, a reporter who had attended the Stratham event, had gotten a great article placed in the Union Leader! So you don’t have to take my word for how powerful these events are turning out to be, you can read all about it here. Thanks so much to Barbara for this coverage, and for the wonderful photo of Jon “Chief” Worrall and his daughter Krista which illustrated the story.

The Manchester visit itself deserves a moment of quiet reflection. There, we were gratified by the participation of a young Iraq War veteran and his mother. (His service dog came, too!) This bright, determined little family shared with us their stories of his injuries, the personality changes that followed, and the hard, hard work of negotiating treatment through the VA. Although he has finally received helpful diagnosis and care, this veteran illustrated for us how overworked and understaffed the VA is, and how stressful it is to endure the paperwork, the phone calls, the questions, the repetitions, and the plain old red tape of the VA’s health care system. It is difficult to imagine how anyone manages to jump through those hoops while coping with combat-induced stress or brain injury. Clearly, having his mother by his side was crucial to his recovery.

In dialogue with our team, and with that brave Iraq veteran, was a group of Vietnam vets who also took the opportunity to open up about their pain and losses in the wake of war. As the conversation expanded, I was able to step back a bit as mediator and listen to the young veteran and his older counterparts swap stories. Two of the Vietnam vets told the young man, “We didn’t have the courage to go back–we could never have done these multiple deployments like you did.” And he said, “But you didn’t have the choice, you were drafted–that was worse.” Back and forth it went, the comparing and contrasting of experiences, the finding of common ground, and the expressions of mutual respect. There were tears. It was a tough discussion–but, once again, we had to be booted from the library when closing time came!

Woven through these amazing experiences of the past week have been my first three rehearsals with the full cast of Make Sure It’s Me, which takes to the West End Studio Theatre in its full glory in June. I can’t properly express my gratitude to playwright Kate Wenner and my “boss” Steph Nugent for trusting me to direct this project. We have lots to accomplish–choreography of stage combat with a wheelchair included? Check! Costuming characters from various branches of the service in a time period (2005) when uniforms were changing? Gotta get it right! Keeping the former Marine and former Army members of my cast from breaking out in a fist-fight? Just kidding, that won’t happen, it’s a total love fest on the set of MSIM. Sound good to you? Then stay tuned.

And join us in Nashua on April 18 and Hampton on April 23rd for our final (and free!) library presentations. You can check out the whole event schedule, and more MSIM/nh information here. Or you can call 603-300-2986 or visit the ACT ONE site for reservations.

 

bonds forged in Stratham

Last night, ACT ONE‘s MAKE SURE IT’S ME/nh project entered new terrain during our presentation at the Wiggin Memorial Library in Stratham. WARNING: LAST NIGHT WAS EPIC, AND SO IS THIS POST! Read on at your leisure. . .

First, we received a warm welcome from Tricia Ryden, the Assistant Director, who made our team and audience feel extremely comfortable (and provided great cookies–a crucial element of any successful event). Tricia, I can’t thank you and the other staff of the library enough for hanging with us from an early start until long past our allotted end time! As our audience assembled, I was delighted to see several of my personal heroes from the many months Steph and I have been researching TBI in veterans in New Hampshire. The conversations percolated before the presentation even started as people introduced themselves to each other–always a good sign.

Then, we presented. We laid out our mission to build civilian-military dialogue in our communities; we provided some basic information about blast-related TBI and its similarities to and differences from other forms of concussion. Then, Iraq war veteran and MSIM cast member Conan Marchi and Jenny Freeman of the Krempels Center and I enacted passages from Kate Wenner’s Make Sure It’s Me.

My heart is racing as I remember the atmosphere in that small meeting room when Conan, in the role of Army Staff Sergeant Mike Ames, began screaming at me (in the role of his wife Sandy). “You don’t understand anything, do you? I can’t make things stop! I can’t make things stop!”

In the post-show discussion, many members of the audience said that Conan’s performance was so truthful it was almost too much to take. There were at least two Iraq war veterans in the room (one of them female) who chose to “come out” about their difficulties readjusting after their combat experiences. They recognized Conan’s portrayal of the hyperarousal, explosive anger, and painful sense of isolation that characterize PTSD and TBI, especially when both are present. One extremely courageous veteran told us he almost couldn’t take watching our performance, but he was “activated” by the whole event and wanted to share his own story. He outlined for us the myriad losses he has experienced: combat buddies from New Hampshire who died; jobs he is no longer allowed to perform due to his PTSD and TBI; friends and family he can no longer communicate with comfortably; the lost sense of connection with his community, which doesn’t seem to hear or understand him; his lost masculine identity, which was so “amped up” during his deployment and now has been so eroded by his injuries and their aftermath. All he wants to do is work and support his family, but instead he has a constant horror movie in his mind which he can’t shut off. This man’s honesty and courage deeply moved me and I can only hope the experience was positive for him, in that he encountered a room full of people ready to listen and learn from him.

Other people who attended included a lovely Krempels member named Brie, who sat in the front row and gave Jenny and me big smiles throughout the evening, along with several thumbs up. Brie, thank you so much for coming and sharing your strength!

Al Porsche is a new and immediate hero of mine. A recently retired counselor from the Manchester Vet Center, and a Vietnam veteran himself, Al was a guest on the Exchange last week discussing the challenges facing Iraq War veterans. I tracked him down and was delighted to learn that he doesn’t mind gabbing with goofy theatre artists over coffee. In fact, his son is an actor, with a physical theatre background! So, happily, he was ready to give my project a hearing. In one conversation, Al provided me with great insights into the spiritual and moral conflicts facing veterans, which can further complicate their healing from the physical wounds of war. He shared some of those thoughts with us in Stratham last night, and we look forward to seeing him at the June production and hearing more of his articulate, compassionate observations.

Jon “Chief” Worrall was a very special guest last night! Chief is a veteran of multiple deployments in both the Navy and NH Army National Guard. I have been so inspired by his story that I nominated him for a 2013 Red Cross Hero award (which he won!). After 28 years of service, Chief was forced to retire due to grave injuries sustained while deployed in Iraq, including traumatic brain injury. While he will never fully recover, he found it tremendously healing to spend time at his camp in the North Country. And so, with his fellow veteran Jerry Goeden, Chief opened up his camp to wounded veterans suffering from TBI and other physical and psychological wounds. Called the Wounded Warriors @ 45 North, or the “Northern Goat Locker,” this camp is now a refuge for small groups of veterans, where they can fish, kayak, or simply rest in the company of others who understand them–and it is entirely free for the injured vets. You can learn more about his program here. Chief brought his lovely, poised daughter with him last night, and at her father’s urging, she told Conan, “You sounded just like Dad.” It was a great tribute, not only to our work with this performance, but also to Chief’s work with his family. He journeyed back from a really dark place to a space of rebuilding and helping others to rebuild.

Also in the room, expressing their concern for veterans, were folks from Pease Greeters, whose mission is “thanking our troops, one flight at a time,” no matter the hour of the day or night. You can check the flight schedule and learn how to participate here.

A dear friend who attended, and who has supported MSIM/nh from the beginning, quietly but clearly stated that she had learned a lot from the presentation to help her understand and support a family member who is presently serving in Afghanistan. A collective sigh greeted this news. Our love goes out to her and her family.

All of this discussion, revelation and sharing was captured on film last night by Deb Barry, founder and Executive Director of Awareness UNlimited. Deb attended last week’s presentation in Portsmouth and approached us afterwards with the offer to document MSIM/nh, an effort that will no doubt serve our community in many ways in the months to come. Steph and I are thrilled to be partnering with Deb in this way–stay tuned as we share the fruits of that collaboration!

As a last note, the Stratham presentation marked the debut of our MSIM stage manager, Kate Quisumbing! An accomplished actress and military family member, Kate brings many stellar qualities to this project and I’m thrilled to have her with us. If all this sounds exciting and you want in, join us in Manchester next Thursday, April 4 at 6:30! All of the details and schedules for the library series and the June production are gathered in one place here.

Now–we take a deep breath, and we march on. . .

MSIM/nh comes to Stratham!

Hey, y’all! ACT ONE’s MAKE SURE IT’S ME/nh event series, which addresses TBI in the military, started last week at the Portsmouth Public Library. We had a terrific response there (including media interest, stay tuned on that!) and we’ll be coming to a town near you soon.

Tomorrow night we’re in Stratham, at the Wiggin Memorial Library at 6:30.

On April 4, we’ll be at the Manchester City Library at 6:30.
On April 18, we’ll be at the Nashua Public Library at 7.
On April 23, we’ll be at the Lane Memorial Library in Hampton at 6:30.
These presentations are free and open to the public. Our team includes Conan Marchi, an Iraq War veteran; Jenny Freeman, a certified brain injury specialist (on the Seacoast); and LTC Steph RIley, an NHNG Occupational Health Nurse (Manchester and Nashua). We present about 20 minutes of information about TBI in the military and about 25 minutes of scene presentations from the play MAKE SURE IT’S ME. Then we have a group discussion. Our audience last week included veterans, military family members, folks living with TBI, and civilians. One young woman said her father had retired after 32 years in the NH Air Guard and she was just so thankful we were talking about issues affecting military families in our state.
So, come join us if you can! Tell your friends and family. Listen, enjoy, and share your perspective with us. And then stay tuned for the full production of MAKE SURE IT’S ME in June, when we perform for three weeks at the West End Studio Theatre in Portsmouth. REHEARSALS START NEXT WEEK! 

leslie and jason are both in the SPOTLIGHT!

Fabulous news, friends! (Warning: Excessive exclamation point alert!) Last week, my solo masked show CLEAN ROOM was nominated for THREE Spotlight Awards by Seacoast Online! Read about my nominations for Best Actress, Best Original Script and Best Play, and then CAST YOUR VOTE before March 17th for the People’s Choice award! I’ll let you know in late April if I win any awards, but as they say, “It’s a thrill just to be nominated!” Thanks to everyone who has supported this show for helping me (and Brighina and Stupino) rock the Seacoast.

Also available online for you: Make Sure It’s Me composer Jason Crigler and his sister Marjorie Crigler presented a TEDx lecture in December and it’s now on the TED site! Click here to learn the remarkable story of Jason’s devastating brain hemorrhage, get a glimpse of his family’s important role in his recovery, and hear this phenomenal musician spin his experiences into song. Jason and I have been having inspiring, revelatory work sessions on the soundscape for Make Sure It’s Me, our project about Traumatic Brain Injury in the military. His compositions are yet another fantastic reason to catch the show in the spring! Steph N. and I have been thrilled to meet Marjorie as well, and I think you’ll be seeing more of these two around the West End Studio Theatre in the coming year.

In other news, Steph N. and I visited both the Hampton American Legion Post 35 and the Hampton Rotary Club in recent days to make short presentations about MSIM/nh. We met wonderful people, fielded many thoughtful questions, and shared some tough stories with our audiences there. Steph and I are deeply grateful for the time and attention given to us by the Hampton American Legion and Rotary members.

As a last note for today, I rehearsed last night with the Make Sure It’s Me/nh Library Team of Jenny Freeman, Conan Marchi, and Steph Riley (yes, we have two beloved Stephs in the ACT ONE family, our Executive Director Steph Nugent, and Lt. Col. Steph Riley of the NHNG). What a great time we had preparing our discussion and dramatic readings from the MSIM script by Kate Wenner. As sobering as the topic of TBI may be, we are looking forward to bringing our hour-long event to the Portsmouth Public Library on March 18th at 7 pm. We’ll also be visiting the Stratham, Hampton, Manchester and Nashua libraries during March and April. Visit the MSIM/nh home page for details on all the library events, as well as the full production in June at WEST.

 

coming to a library near you!

I AM SO EXCITED! Make Sure It’s Me/nh is almost ready to launch! Our community discussions on Traumatic Brain Injury began in fall 2012 with two early workshop readings from Kate Wenner’s play, Make Sure It’s Me. Now, in advance of our full production of the play this coming June, our Library Presentation series begins on March 18th at the Portsmouth Public Library. I’ll be joined there by MSIM/nh cast member US Army Sgt. Conan Marchi (ret.) and Jenny Freeman of the Krempels Center. We’ll be sharing some basic information about the “invisible wounds” experienced by our service members exposed to IED blasts–and how these injuries can be exacerbated by multiple concussions of various kinds or become intertwined with symptoms of PTSD. And we’ll be reading selected scenes from the play that illustrate the effects of TBI on service members and their families.

Jenny and Conan will stick with me for visits to Straham and Hampton. For our forays to Manchester and Nashua, Conan and I will have the company of Lt. Col. Stephanie Riley of the New Hampshire National Guard. For the full schedule of events, please see our updated MSIM page.

I’m also delighted to present an extremely special resource ACT ONE has created for all of our events: the MSIM TBI Fact Sheet. Compiled with assistance from the NH Commission on PTSD & TBI; the Brain Injury Association of New Hampshire; The Military-Civilian TBI Collaborative; the Manchester VA; Easter Seals; our state’s Military Transition Assistance Advisor, Lisa Aldridge; Dr. James Whitlock of Northeast Rehab; and NH DHHS Bureau Chief of Community Based Military Programs Jo Moncher, this Fact Sheet will be distributed at every MSIM/nh event thanks to the generous support of the American Red Cross for our first printing of 4000 sheets. The electronic version of the MSIM TBI Fact Sheet is here to be shared and used by all–go ahead, you know you want to share it! But, when you do, please remember that we are getting oodles of them into the hands of military and civilian families this spring because the Red Cross was there when we asked for help. And I must give a special shout-out to Ian Dyer, Emergency Services Director for the NH Region of the ARC, for pushing this project through (and for being an all-around cool guy). How many people can honestly say, “Yes, I secured funding for a theatre outreach project aimed at helping veterans WHILE ALSO RESPONDING TO HURRICANE SANDY”!?!?!?!

So, share the Fact Sheet. Check our event schedule. And then, please join us in support of all our local heroes at the libraries in March and April, and at the West End Studio Theatre in June.

light in the darkness, part two!

Hey, all, happy New Year! Here’s the followup to yesterday’s post about ACT ONE’s Festival 2012. As I’d mentioned, one highlight for me of the Festival was directing Will Eno’s Tragedy: a tragedy. This off-kilter comedy plunked us into a television news studio as our local team narrated the quiet, everyday events of the last night of the world. Maybe? The rehearsal process and run with my hilarious and wildly intelligent cast was pure joy from start to finish. Below, you’ll see Peter Josephson as Frank in the Studio; Robert Macadaeg as John in the Field; Chris Leon as Michael, Legal Advisor; Joe Berardi as The Witness; and Leslie Trentalange as Constance at the Home:

In addition to my cast, I loved collaborating with Stephanie Nugent, who served as set and lighting designer for this show and ran the lights and sound; Michael Kimball, who created an astonishing soundscape for the world’s end, and also welcomed me into his home studio to record a raucous half-hour of “radio broadcast” for our pre-show; and Michele Macadaeg, costume designer extraordinaire and impeccable human being. We also had the good fortune of a sponsorship for this production from The Atticus Group.

Jeanné McCartin wasn’t certain she loved the Tragedy script, but she gave kind kudos to our production. And she gave me and ACT ONE a huge boost at the end of the year when she made note of my new role as Associate Director in her assessment of top Seacoast arts stories of 2012. You’ll find us listed in the category “Major Moves.”

Once Festival ended, Stephanie and I turned immediately to the task of presenting a full reading of Make Sure It’s Me at the Portsmouth Public Library on November 14th. This play addresses the problem of blast-induced Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) in the American military and it will be the centerpiece of a performance and community outreach project produced by ACT ONE in the spring and early summer of 2013. Our reading was phenomenally received and included several cast members who will be joining us for the full production at WEST in June. A big thanks to everyone who participated and attended, including representatives of the NH National Guard and the Krempels Center! To read more about the series of MSIM/nh events, click here.

As I write this, Stephanie and I are working on many aspects of the MSIM/nh project and also looking towards Festival 2013. Stay tuned for updates, and drop me an email if you want more information or to join the ACT ONE mailing list. I wish you all a marvelous 2013 and look forward to seeing you around the state and at WEST as our activities unfold!