Grace, a 23 year old girl with hemiplegic migraines, goes to a support group for people living with chronic pain and illness where she finds she is the youngest person there by more than 30 years. Thinking she’ll have nothing in common with any of the group members, she meets Dennis, a man in his late 60’s who starts harassing her about being in the wrong place. What starts off as bickering between two people certain they’ll never understand each other quickly changes when they bond over a shared grief; his from a life he’s lost and hers from a life she’ll never have.
This dark comedy explores the grief experienced, friendships made, and bonds formed at the onset of chronic illness.
Cast: 2 W, 1 M, Extras
Run Time: 20 min
Read Grace & Dennis on the New Play Exchange.
I began writing Grace & Dennis as I was coming out of remission. I had originally begun writing it when I saw a call out asking for 10 minute plays written by disabled playwrights or featuring disabled lead characters. Unfortunately, I missed the deadline because I was in the hospital after a severe hemiplegic migraine (HM) attack (ironic, right?) I finished the first draft a few days after I got out of the hospital. I didn’t want to scrap the play, especially because it is the first play to ever feature a character with HM. So I decided to produce it myself.
I know it’s difficult and triggering to see a play when you have a migraine disorder. But it’s also so important to see yourself represented on stage. So I’m bringing the play to you. I’m teaming up with fellow HM’er Erica Carrasco who writes the Achy Smile Blog to live stream the world premiere on the Achy Smile Facebook page.
I know that I can’t possibly capture everybody’s experience with hemiplegic migraines in a 20 minute play, but I hope this is a start and can lead to more awareness and representation for the community as a whole.
This play is in memory of Bailey Elizabeth Jones, who died at the young age of 13 after having a series of strokes caused by Hemiplegic Migraines. Below is a note from Bailey’s mom, Shannon.
Bailey Elizabeth Jones was born into this world on January 5th 1991 as healthy as any parent could ever ask for.
By age 13 Bailey was a beautiful, healthy, perfect 13 year old girl. She was in Gifted and Talented. She was full of life and love and determined to be the first female President of the USA!
In May of 2004, she died of a series of sudden strokes ten short days after her first migraine. We stayed at her side as this migraine turned into a nightmare that quickly claimed the life of this young hero.
There were no answers at the time, but February 15, 2013 I was diagnosed with Familial Hemiplegic Migraine. I was able to have Bailey’s case reviewed and finally able to receive an answer for why my perfectly healthy daughter would have a stroke. Bailey’s strokes were caused by Hemiplegic Migraine. While Hemiplegic Migraines are linked genetically, they may lie dormant or in remission for years. Like in my case, Bailey presented with this migraine eight years before I did.
There are too many unanswered questions. Too few treatment options. Not enough information. It’s time to change the face of hemiplegic migraines. No other parent should ever lose their child to this disease or have to watch their child helplessly suffer through it. Advocate, Donate, do whatever you can to help fund more research for this Neurological Disease.
Grace & Dennis Logo by Erica Carrasco