New Storyhorse Theater Presents Locals’ Lives As Docudrama
By Jamie Larson
Lyme disease is a thief. The painless, capricious bite of a tiny tick robs the buoyancy from the personal relationship we have with the natural beauty of our region, steals our health and strength, and, in an increasing number of cases, has taken the lives of people we love.
A new live-reading docudrama, The Little Things, to be performed Monday June 8 at the Bardavon in Poughkeepsie, tells the true, intimate story of a local family who lost a son to Lyme. Written by Jeremy Davidson and directed by Mary Stuart Masterson, The Little Things is the first production by the well-known husband and wife team’s new Storyhorse Documentary Theater. The project centers around dramatic readings of regional stories, performed in venues meaningful to the narrative. All performances will be followed by “talkbacks,” where the audience members are invited to join in conversation with Storyhorse and the invited experts to discuss their own experiences related to the topic.
Joseph Elone shortly before his passing.
The Little Things tells the story of the Elone family of Poughkeepsie, whose 17-year-old son Joseph died after Lyme damaged his heart. Davidson interviewed the family after reading a newspaper article about their son’s death and became captivated not just with the impact of the illness but with an amazingly strong family hit by a devastating loss.
“They are such a remarkable family,” Masterson says. “Speaking with them, it became a story about much more than Lyme disease. Now they’re trying to find meaning and move forward. It’s an issue that affects everyone in the area, but it’s an intimate story.”
Mary Stuart Masterson
“We’re celebrating the vision and the voice Joe had,” Davidson says, “and what he saw for the future.”
The reading will be performed by on- and off-Broadway theater stars Leon Addison Brown, David Pegram and Okieriete Onaodowan. The performance will be enhanced by the impressive, projected visual design of Sage Marie Carter, with sound design by Seth Chrisman. Lending his medical experience to the talkback will be Dr. Richard Horowitz. An internist from Hyde Park, Dr. Horowitz has treated over 12,000 chronic Lyme disease patients in the last 28 years. He is medical director of the Hudson Valley Healing Arts Center, and past president of the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Educational Foundation and the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society. He’s also the author of the New York Times bestselling science book, “Why Can’t I Get Better? Solving the Mystery of Lyme and Chronic Disease.”
Jeremy Davidson (Photo by Deborah Lopez)
“Everyone involved has some connection with Lyme,” says Masterson, a resident of Dutchess County and mother of four. “It’s present in all of our lives. We do tick checks three times a day and find them on our kids.”
While Lyme and other tick-borne illnesses have become a constant concern for those who enjoy the vast bounty of natural resources our region offers, Masterson and Davidson say they are not trying to dissuade people from going outdoors, but rather creating a community outlet to share stories and discuss experiences.
“We don’t want people to be scared of some mysterious, microscopic scourge,” Masterson says. [“The Little Things] is hopeful. It’s not a memorial piece but a story about love and parents trying to raise children.”
Dr. Richard Horowitz
The performance also is meaningful as Storyhorse’s pioneer project. It was important to them that this story be told now at the Bardavon, due to the story’s ties to this time of year and the city of Poughkeepsie. The theater group, which also is supported by the Hudson Opera House , has a number of other projects in the works. Davidson hinted that they’re working on a piece centered around farming that they hope to perform in a large barn, another about the historical culture of slavery in the Northeast, and a story of the quite active community of Bigfoot researchers in our region. Each new project would stay true to the format of a dramatic reading followed by an expert-informed talkback.
Storyhorse’s plans for this personalized approach to storytelling just might turn a ‘little thing’ into one with a major impact on our regional arts and entertainment landscape.
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