NPR’s Diane Rehm leads the cast of Surviving Grace at Clowes Memorial Hall

On November 14, 2014, a star cast will take the stage for a special ensemble reading of Act 1 of Surviving Grace, an original play by comedy writer Trish Vradenburg (“Designing Women,” “Family Ties,” “Kate and Allie”), co-founder of USAgainstAlzheimer’s, a national advocacy organization committed to stopping Alzheimer’s by 2020.

Based on Trish’s experience as a caregiver to her mother who died of Alzheimer’s in 1992, Surviving Grace is a brutally honest, irreverent and moving story – laced with humor – that sheds light on the emotional ups and downs that more than 15 million Alzheimer’s caregivers in the U.S. go through each day. The play has also been produced off-Broadway, in Washington, DC, Los Angeles, Raleigh NC, and in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

The performance will take place in Clowes Memorial Hall at Butler University and boasts an all-star cast including Loni Anderson, Robert Foxworth (“Falcon Crest,” guest appearances including “West Wing” and “Law & Order”), Marilu Henner (“Taxi”), and NPR’s Diane Rehm. Additionally, several local personalities, including television news veteran Anne Ryder, will participate and add a local flair to the national tour.

The evening will begin with the play reading at 7:30 p.m., followed by a reception with the cast and major sponsors in the Krannert Room at Clowes Memorial Hall. To learn more, please go to www.survivinggrace.org and to purchase tickets visit www.cloweshall.org/survivinggrace. The trailer for Surviving Grace is available here.

“I thought my mom was invincible, but she was no match for Alzheimer’s. I watched helplessly as her mind, her dignity, and finally her body vanished into the unforgiving chasm of Alzheimer’s,” said Trish Vradenburg. “So why a serious play with a large dose of humor? Because that’s how I survive life – if you don’t laugh, you’ll cry. We have to bring this disease out of the shadows and into the spotlight; that is why I wrote Surviving Grace and why I’m excited to be sharing it during this special event.”

 The Indianapolis production is being co-presented by USAgainstAlzheimer’s and Eli Lilly and Company, with the additional support of local partners, including the Alzheimer’s Association of Greater Indiana, Butler University, Community Health Network, IU Health, Joy’s House, VMS, and Wellpoint.

USAgainstAlzheimer’s, based in Washington, DC, is a nonprofit organization committed to mobilizing individual, political, business and civic leaders to achieve the goal of ending Alzheimer’s by 2020. Lilly is a global pharmaceutical company headquartered in Indianapolis, and an active member of the Global CEO Initiative on Alzheimer’s Disease (CEOi).

“We are thrilled to be working with USAgainstAlzheimer’s and other key local partners to bring this production to Indianapolis.  Our hope is that Surviving Grace will increase our local dialog and awareness to bring needed focus, services and research funding for a cause and a cure, on a local, national, and global basis – but what better place to be a catalyst than here at home,” said Phyllis Ferrell, global brand development leader, Alzheimer’s therapeutics, Lilly.

Alzheimer’s is officially the sixth leading cause of death but, based on recent analysis, is actually the third leading cause of death. The number of Americans with the disease is projected to triple by 2050 – from 5.4 million to nearly 16 million – unless we find a treatment or cure, and ten percent of victims are between the ages of 40 and 65. It is the only disease in the top ten that currently has no cure, treatment, or prevention. Yet it receives dramatically less industry focus and scientific attention than other, less widespread diseases.

“Alzheimer’s takes a huge emotional, physical, and financial toll not only patients, but also on families and caregivers,” said Marilu Henner. “We need to do all that we can to amplify the voices of those impacted by Alzheimer’s, which is why I’m honored to be a part of Surviving Grace.”

Researchers believe that it is possible to stop Alzheimer’s within the decade if the right resources are appropriately applied – just as we did for HIV/AIDS in the 1990s. In support of this goal, proceeds from the Surviving Grace Indianapolis production will benefit USAgainstAlzheimer’s.

WHAT:          A Celebrity Reading of Surviving Grace

WHEN:          Friday, November 14, 2014 at 7:30 p.m.

WHERE:       Butler University, Clowes Memorial Hall

 

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