In 2013, the New Hampshire-based nonprofit Artists’ Collaborative Theatre Of New England (ACT ONE) presented a series of events based on, and inspired by, Kate Wenner’s Make Sure It’s Me, a play addressing the issue of traumatic brain injury in American service members. Throughout 2013, ACT ONE visited libraries around the state with a free hour-long presentation about TBI symptoms and treatment approaches, punctuated by readings of scenes from Ms. Wenner’s play. In June, a three-week, full production of Make Sure It’s Me ran at the West End Studio Theatre in Portsmouth, including talk-backs with members of the military and medical communities, as well as the artists of ACT ONE.
In 2014, MSIM/nh project director Leslie Pasternack continued to develop the traveling presentation and took it to the Red River Theatres in Concord and Greenfield Community College in Greenfield, MA. Audience members at all events participated in talkback sessions and were also provided with a TBI Fact Sheet created especially by the MSIM/nh team, printed with support from the American Red Cross and Brain Injury Association of New Hampshire.
In April of 2014, Leslie Pasternack and ACT ONE were honored with the Ellen Hayes Award, presented by the Brain Injury Association of New Hampshire to an organization or individual who has made significant contributions on behalf of those living with brain injuries.
From 2015 to the present, Leslie has continued to tour the traveling presentation of Make Sure It’s Me, now incorporating veterans to read at venues such as the Manchester Vet Center (four years in a row!), the Manchester VA Medical Center and the University of New Hampshire. In 2016, she adapted the presentation to serve as the final keynote for “Community Stories: Soldiers Home & Away.” In March, 2018, Make Sure It’s Me will make its first appearance at the Manchester VA Medical Center.
The goals of the Make Sure It’s Me/nh project were:
- to build awareness of the extent of TBI in service members/veterans and encourage TBI screening for anyone with symptoms
- to build bridges between the civilian and military communities in addressing this problem
- to connect families in need to the resources available in New Hampshire
ABOUT THE PLAY AND THE PLAYWRIGHT
Kate Wenner is a novelist (Setting Fires, Dancing With Einstein) and a former award-winning producer of ABC’s 20/20. Make Sure It’s Me is a fictionalized account of five injured vets, their loved ones, and the university researcher who struggles to treat the new “signature” of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan: blast-induced traumatic brain injury. The play is based on months of interviews Wenner conducted with military and medical personnel. The title is drawn from a story Wenner heard from a veteran’s mother: the young man had told her right before he deployed, “if anything happens, open the body bag. Mistakes happen. Make sure it’s me.” The irony of his worry was that the young man came back but he was no longer the same “me.” So the family began the process of figuring out who his post-injury “me” could be. MSIM has had staged readings in MA, CO, and Chicago, and scenes were featured in the Library of Congress’s May 2012 “Arts, Military + Healing” program.
THE 2013 PRODUCTION AT WEST
Beau James and Angela Molihan in ACT ONE’s Make Sure It’s Me
The full production of Make Sure It’s Me was directed by Leslie Pasternack and produced by ACT ONE, under the Executive Direction of Stephanie Nugent, and was attended by approximately 590 people! Thanks to all cast, crew, audiences, guest panelists, sponsors, and our numerous collaborators in the military and medical communities around New Hampshire. Click here to see images and credits from the WEST production.
Go to Project History for more details about the MSIM/nh event series.
Read Press Coverage and Audience Kudos!
For immediate crisis support: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or www.veteranscrisisline.net
Our TBI Fact Sheet includes contact information for many local resources.
For further research:
Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health & Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE)
Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC)
Brain Injury Association of New Hampshire (BIANH)