Hancher commissioned a new play by Working Group Theatre that premiered on April 12-14. Here are the comments audience members sent in after seeing The Broken Chord.
I thought it was terrific: very powerful and painful(to me personally) even though the ending was uplifting.
It was terrific, beautifully written and acted. Having a relative with Alzheimer's whose caretaker and wife just died, I found many scenes ringing too true and others suggesting what we may experience in the future. I couldn't figure out the role of the dance I wish the program would provide background on the play, how it was developed, etc. I miss that information in most Hancher programs.
I was so impressed with "The Broken Chord" that I took notes. Alzheimer's Disease is a subject close to my heart, and the play gave me an elated perception of the condition. Kudos especially to Saffron Henke for bringing so much vitality to the role of the patient.
As a five year live in caregiver of an elderly woman with dementia, I have first hand knowledge of the trajectory of care and the individual nature of decline. Being a caregiver can be isolating, bewildering, frightening and rewarding (all at once). It was, by far, the hardest thing I have ever done and the accomplishment I'm most proud of.
It's extremely important to the dignity and integrity of caregivers and care recievers that their stories be told with accuracy, sensitivity and depth. The Working Group Theatre accomplished all this and more in their wonderful, original production of the Broken Chord.
The writing, direction, stage design, acting and community collaboration of this performance created a story of Alzheimer's as ethereal and mysterious as the disease itself, with real and useful information for anyone going through this experience with a loved one. Even if you have not gone through this experience, chances are you will, as the narrative rightly described Alzheimer's as an "epidemic" with far reaching consequences for all of us.
To me, this project illustrates the arts at its best and highest, use: deeply moving, instructional, compelling to look at and stirring of new awareness and dialogue. I am most impressed with the Working Group Theatre's creation, and grateful to Hancher for commissioning the piece.
Sarah Neary, LMSW
Volunteer Program Coordinator
Iowa City Hospice
The Broken Chord brought me deeper into the world of a person with Alzheimers than I could imagine being able to go.
Watching the archivist struggle as she lost her connections to both past and present was wrenching -- though alongside the overwhelming sense of loss were cherished moments of humor and love. Saffron Henke was superb.
The interweaving of the archivist's story with the accounts told by different caregivers created a heartbreaking portrait of what happens to our personalities and relationships as memory fragments and recedes.
I can not imagine anyone leaving the theater yesterday without being profoundly moved by what they saw and heard. Many of us were in tears.
The production was effective, moving and brought to mind the emotions and tasks we have experienced with our aging parents, including effects on sibling relationships and the whole business of business unfinished.
-I like the idea of the lobby displays but really didn't attend to them because I arrived with group of friends, talking outside, and heading straight into theatre; also did not go there during intermission. I don't know if more could have been done to highlight that or maybe add some to program. Could also for me just have been the fine day and talking outside and then heading straight in.
-We didn't know there would be a talk back until we were almost out of the seating area; we needed to keep going with another commitment but if there was an alert about a talk back after performance we missed it.
Finally, kuduo to all. The combination of speech, movement, and other affective modes of communication have been hallmarks of your productions and they were there in spades on Sunday.
I would like to say thank you for the production of "The Broken Chord." To say that it was moving, is an understatement. I have never seen seen so many people that were so moved by a theater production.
It was informative without being preachy and it was just so very, very real. The actors were incredible - i know many of the actors and stopped seeing the people that I know and saw the characters. Which is not only a testament to the actors but also to the writing.
I also appreciated the opportunity for the talk-back session following the performance. I would have, however, appreciated the opportunity to actually "talk-back." To be able to ask questions of the experts. I understand that on Friday night the actors were in the talk-back session? I would have liked to have had the chance to hear their experiences and how it affected them.
I think it is too bad that it was only available one weekend. This is a show that more people should have the chance to experience and even with the great pre-show press, I think word would have spread and it could have reached many more people.
Once again, thank you for t his amazing production. I have been thinking of it and processing it all week. So, thank you.
Carol Grow Johnk
This should be seen by everyone.
We enjoyed the play.
1/ It was well written and very well performed.
2/ I probably did not learn any new facts but the play presented what I knew in a powerful way.
3/ Quite apart from any purpose to inform people (including people like me on the edge of 80), the play as theater was worth seeing as good theater.
4/ There was a poltical view (challenging what is one's "self"; minimizing the cognitive dimension of people) that I didn't agree with, but that was very low key and did not get in the way of the dramatic content of the play.
That program was amazing and so professionally done, as it was informative and visually suburb! It really should be put on film, so that all can see this treasure! It was “spot on” in all aspects. Please keep this group supported for WHATEVER they want to put on the stage. They are VERY talented.
After the performance I couldn't find my way home!
I was thinking of sending Saffron Henke a note to the effect of "Thanks a lot for making my wife and me cry! I hope you're happy." But irony isn't always obvious in email, so let me just say that it was a production worthy of Hancher: intelligent, creatively staged, and emotionally powerful. I do hope you're all happy with it!
I thought The Broken Chord was "spot on." As a caregiver to Dave, my spouse who has early onset the visual variant of Alzheimer's, I identified with the stories, the emotions and the educational information presented. Kudos to the interviewees, the writers and the actors all of whom did a marvelous job! I think this show needs to be taken "on the road." It is so difficult as a caregiver to explain the disease and what is involved in care giving. This play says so much! I think it would be good for everyone to see this! And with the projected numbers of people who will be impacted by Alzheimer's in the coming years everyone SHOULD see this! Thank you for all your work so beautifully presented!
Great Quality performance! It deals with an important community issue.
A partnership that is worth many more performances.
Broken Chord was very well done. The actresses and actors were great also. It brought funny memories of my father who had Alzheimers and lost his battle to the disease in 2000. I think it was well orchestrated and got the point across.