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…before I wake… addresses the stages of grief

Panel discussion on grief accompanies Fort Wayne Civic play

By Michael Summers


Fort Wayne Reader


The grieving process has been well researched and well documented — Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’ 1969 book On Death and Dying is still probably the definitive word on the subject; it was the first to describe what are called “the five stages of grief,” the phases people go through when trying to come to terms with a tragedy or a profound loss.

While Phil Colglazier, Executive Director of the Fort Wayne Civic Theater, was writing the script for what would eventually become …before I wake…, a story about a young couple trying to cope with a tragic loss, On Death and Dying was one of the books he consulted. But when he tried to do a little research beyond the text, he found that the subject of grief is almost taboo.

“The more I started researching, I found that grief something people don’t talk about,” says Colglazier. “It’s natural to avoid the topic.”

In …before I wake… , which debuts February 4 on the Fort Wayne Civic’s “Off Main” stage at the library, Joe and Marty Narwald (Richard Marchbanks and Andrea Cash) try to come to terms with the loss of their child and maintain their relationship through the aftermath of the tragedy.

Both Marty and Joe have different ways of trying to deal — or not — with their loss, a common issue among people who are grieving. For instance, at one point, Joe Narwald fears his wife is in danger of completely losing touch with reality, but is having his own problems coming to terms with his own feelings. “His struggle is between trying to help his wife, and trying to help himself cope,” says Richard Marchbanks, who plays Joe. “He finds comfort in his faith, and she struggles with reaching that point.”

Two older women named Maggie (Marsha Wallace) and Rose live next door to the Narwalds and sort of help them through the process. “It really is a perfect study about the different things people go through and the ways different people handle grief,” says T.J. McCombs, who plays Rose. “The couple fights, they blame each other, there’s depression and pretending it hasn’t happened… they go through all these phases before coming out of their grief.”

McCombs adds that the play has its lighter moments, with Rose providing a lot of the comic relief. “The overall message is hopeful,” she continues. “A lot of it is about the generations. There are some parallels between the losses that the older women have felt and how they’ve journeyed through their life… and knowing you can make it through just about anything.”

Colglazier echoes the sentiment that …before I wake… is ultimately a hopeful story. “It’s also about living and life and setting a philosophy of how to move forward,” Colglazier says. “Their story is to see that development, that process, so it’s not all tears.”

The way … before I wake… handles many of these issues lead to a unique collaboration between the Fort Wayne Civic Theater and Lutheran Health Network, PHP and Parkview Health.

A panel discussion on grief will take place during the run of the play. Each panel will consist of a grief and loss counselor; a social worker; a nurse; and a physician. “Many of our employees deal with individuals experiencing grief, whether it’s with someone who is hospitalized, or they’ve experienced the death of someone close,” says Patti Hays, Senior Vice President of Lutheran Health Network. “The people on the panel are going to spend time looking at the stages of grieving, and review what resources are available in the community. For health care providers and others, the panel will try to help identify what their role can be working with individuals who are grieving.”

Though Colglazier wrote …before I wake… on his own, without the idea of making the play part of a broader discussion on health care, both the Civic and the health care organizations welcome the unique opportunity a production like this can provide. “Art is a wonderful educational tool,” says Hays. “We can learn by reading, we can learn by going to seminars, but it’s also a great opportunity to see a play such as …before I wake… and then be able to talk about the issues it raises.”

Performance Dates & Times for …before I wake… and schedule for Three Panel Discussion on Grief Programs

Friday, February 4 at 8:00 pm
Saturday, February 5 at 8:00 pm
Sunday, February 6 at 2:00 pm (followed by Panel Discussion on Grief)

Thursday, February 10 6:00 pm — Panel Discussion on Grief only. No show

Friday, February 11 at 8:00 pm
Saturday, February 12 at 8:00 pm
Sunday, February 13 at 2:00

Friday, February 18 at 8:00 pm
Saturday, February 19 at 2:00 pm (followed by Panel Discussion on Grief)
Saturday, February 19 at 8:00 pm
Sunday, February 20 at 2:00 pm

Call: 260 424-5220
Or online at www.fwcivic.org

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©2018 Fort Wayne Reader. All rights Reserved.