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Play examines dementia's impact on family

“In the Garden” examines the impact of dementia on a father and his grown children. It will be presented free of charge at WITC-New Richmond on May 21 by the New Richmond Dementia Friendly Coalition and the St. Croix Valley Foundation. The Monsetin family is play by (from left) Michael Venkse, Andrew Wheeler, Jim Pounds and Heidi Fellner. Submitted photo

By Meg Heaton, special to the Star-Observer

An increasing number of families are facing the impact of dementia, and as with most difficult journeys, the first steps are the hardest.

The play "In the Garden" examines one family's experience on that journey as they confront their father's dementia. It will be presented free of charge at WITC-New Richmond, 1910 S. Knowles Ave., on Tuesday, May 21 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. The event is presented in partnership with the St. Croix Valley Foundation, the New Richmond Dementia Friendly

Coalition and WITC-New Richmond.

The story focuses on the interactions between Arthur Monsetin and his three grown children in their family home and beloved garden. Arthur shares his insight as his disease progresses, all the while his children search for ways to support him.

The play is one of three that focuses on the impact of dementia and Alzheimer's disease. All three have been previously produced in 16 communities across the lower St. Croix Valley with

close to 1,000 attendees.

The producer and director of "In the Garden" is Danette McCarthy.

"When audience members watch a play together, this shared experience opens up an opportunity to talk about the characters, situations and even the metaphors in the play from an

objective position. Yet, nothing is fully objective. Our own life experiences add to our personal

response to any story," said McCarthy.

As part of the event, small group conversations will take place after the play and audience

members have the opportunity to share their thoughts with each other, and the larger group.

According to McCarthy, as an audience considers questions from the play, they also integrate

what they know and don't know about memory loss.

"They may be just beginning to learn what to ask," McCarthy said. "They may be in a position to share what they've learned with others. Again, it's like a door is opening to a conversation we don't know how to have. It's a safe door because we get to talk about that family we just saw on stage."

The event includes lunch and pre-registration is required by Friday, May 17. To attend, contact

the Aging and Disabilities Resource Center of St. Croix County at 715-381-4360 or 800-372-2333.