A Play by Barb and Carl has been in development at Illusion through their Fresh Ink series for several years. I'll let them set the scene: "In March of 2017, nationally acclaimed playwright Carlyle Brown’s wife and dramaturg Barbara Joyce Rose-Brown had a stroke which left her with right side weakness and an inability to speak. A dramaturg had lost her access to language. A playwright had lost his dramaturg. As a way of working through their situation, as they had so often before, they decided to write a play. This is that play."
|the Healthcare Worker (Laura Esping) looks on as|
Barb (Kimberly Richardson) and Carl (JoeNathan Thomsas)
struggle (photo by Alex Clark)
|Barb (Kimberly Richardson) communicates with more than words|
(with JoeNathan Thomas, photo by Alex Clark)
After many years in their space on the 8th floor in the Hennepin Center for the Arts in downtown Minneapolis, Illusion has moved to the Center for Performing Arts, which recently added new and modern construction to their historic building, making it a mix of old and new with many artists in residence. Illusion's theater space is in the new part, a black box theater which for this performance is set up as a mini-thrust. It's a more intimate space than their old one, which sometimes felt too big for the work they were doing. The design for this play is simple but effective, a mostly bare stage against a backdrop illustration of neurons, with lighting cues to differentiate scenes and punctuate moments (scenic design by Dean Holzman, lighting design by Alex Clark).
Carlyle Brown wrote and directed the play, with Barbara Rose Brown once again serving as his dramaturg. I can't begin to imagine how difficult, cathartic, and healing this process must have been. But that's what artists do when faced with a crisis - they make art. The result is a truly beautiful play about love, marriage, art, language, and perseverance. In the face of a medical incident which changes everything, is love enough?