Opalescent Productions Presents UNTYING LOVE, 10/13-11/4
Opalescent Productions has announced Untying Love, a new drama about the end of life and letting go by Peggy Willens to run at TADA! Theater, 15 West 28th Street, NYC from October 13 to November 4, 2012. Emma Berrydirects a cast of eight to be announced shortly. AEA Showcase, pending approval.
In the tradition of Chekhov and Shepard, Untying Love is a raw and unblinking view into the intimate moment when people embrace the ultimate act of family love. The play is set in a hospice, where Steven’s mother is caught between life and death. He doesn’t know how to help her. Sharing stories, laughter and tears, his quirky family hopes to give his mother a peaceful goodbye, free of pain and fear. Two supportive hospice volunteers provide all the help they can. But something’s in the way. Who’s not letting go, and why?
Director Emma Berry described it as “a stunning script of depth, one that requires a first-class caliber of performance. It drew me back to live theater after many years away.”
Untying Love can be viewed as a contrasting but complementary piece to the Pulitzer Prize-winning Wit by Margaret Edson, with whom Willens attended high school in Washington, DC. While Wit portrays the experience of a woman, Dr. Vivian Bearing, in the last stages of ovarian cancer, in Untying Love the dying patient remains offstage. And while Wit is highly literary, including flashbacks to Dr. Bearing's erudite lectures on the poetry of John Donne, the characters in Willens' play struggle to communicate their most basic hopes, fears and resentments. But the two plays share two themes: that there are times when medical intervention can no longer help, and that there is something in the human experience that cannot be understood through intellect alone.
Untying Love is presented in a time when end-of-life issues, palliative care and hospice care are receiving increased attention. Current political debates about Medicare spending touch on the topic both obliquely ? about 25% of Medicare dollars are spent during the last year of a person’s life? and directly, as when the term “death panels” was coined for a proposal to offer Medicare patients voluntary counseling about living wills and end-of-life care options. The provision was deleted from the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Eighty percent of U.S. patients state that they don’t want aggressive intervention and hospitalization once their disease reaches a terminal phase, and yet many people who want to die at home or in hospice do not have that opportunity.
The palliative care and hospice communities work to help families acknowledge what’s happening during the dying process while easing patients’ physical and emotional pain. The hospice philosophy is to help people live with dignity in their last days and weeks, with a chance to say their goodbyes and to die in peace. There is, in short, such a thing as a good death.
Please note that Untying Love is not a political or “message” play, however. It indelibly portrays one family’s journey through the end-of-life moment.
"So many scripts aim to entertain rather than provoke,” Berry said, “and this script is, in its own quiet way, utterly provoking.”
Untying Love is presented by Opalescent Productions. Director: Emmy Berry; Scenic Design: Tim McMath; Costume Designer:Kristine Koury; Lighting Designer: Lois Catanzaro; Fight Choreographer: Gael Schaefer; Stage Manager: Emily Bible; Casting Director:Jamibeth Margolis, CSA; Publicist: Paul Siebold.