BLACKBERRY WINTER Returns for UCF Celebrates the Arts

BLACKBERRY WINTER Returns for UCF Celebrates the ArtsA staged reading of Steve Yockey's Blackberry Winter, presented by Orlando Shakespeare Theater (Orlando Shakes) in Partnership with UCF as a part of UCF Celebrates the Arts, will appear April 9, 2018 in the Alexis & Jim Pugh Theater. This production of Blackberry Winter originally appeared at Orlando Shakes in 2017, after the script was featured as a reading at the Theater's PlayFest 2014. To raise awareness of caregiving in its various forms for Alzheimer's, dementia, and other conditions, the reading will be followed by a post-show talkback with the playwright, caregivers, and performers. Tickets ($20) are available online now at

Years of success, meticulous planning, and an eye for detail have in no way prepared Vivienne Avery for her mother's slide into the grip of dementia. Vivienne recounts memories of her aging mother and the difficult decisions regarding her care. Interwoven with these stories is an evolving, wondrous 21st century Alzheimer's creation myth - an origin story about a white egret who tries to protect forest animals as they lose their memories to a blind, oblivious mole. Blackberry Winter is a moving, occasionally humorous, and deeply human new work.

"Not only are we giving a brilliant production the chance to return to the stage, but we are building a bridge between art and real life," says Cynthia White, Director of New Play Development at Orlando Shakes and Lecturer in Directing at the University of Central Florida. "The play is only a starting point for the talkback, which will provide insight into the world of caregiving."

The original Orlando Shakes cast returns with Suzanne O'Donnell* as Vivienne, Mindy Anders* as White Egret, and Kody Grassett as Gray Mole. The creative team includes Producer Kristin Clippard, Director Michael Dove, Scenic Designer Vandy Wood, Lighting Designer Bert Scott, Costume Designer Denise R. Warner, and Sound Designer Britt Sandusky. While actors will have scripts in hand, the reading will feature creative elements, such as costumes and projections.

In addition to the cast and playwright, the talkback will feature Margery Pabst-Steinmetz and Dr. Rosemary Laird, who are nationally recognized leaders in the world of caregiving. Pabst-Steinmetz's accomplishments include creating and writing four books, including the award winning Enrich Your Caregiving Journey and Words of Care. She is also the creator and host of two radio shows, and the founder and president of the Pabst Charitable Foundation for the Arts. Dr. Laird received her medical degree with honors from Georgetown University School of Medicine, completed her residency in internal medicine at University of Chicago Hospitals, and then pursued specialized medical training in geriatrics via a fellowship at the University of Kansas, where she also earned a Masters in Health Services Administration. After relocating to Florida in 2002, Dr. Laird became the founding Medical Director of Health First Aging Services and the Center for Family Caregivers in Melbourne, and is recognized for her work as a consummate advocate for senior citizens and the family members who are their primary caregivers.

This event is presented by UCF Celebrates the Arts in collaboration with Orlando Shakespeare Theater. Generously supported by The Pabst Charitable Foundation for the Arts.

*appears courtesy of the Actors' Equity Association.

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