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Jessica Jernigan, from left, Joel Longstreth and Carolyn Bradford put many rehearsal hours into their upcoming performance of “Beyond the Rain.” The play is about a caregiver and her mother, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s during a period when the disease wasn’t well understood. The play will be performed at the Manchester Arts Center March 1-3.

It’s been 10 years since Alzheimer’s Tennessee staged a performance of the play “Beyond the Rain.” However, the organization has been putting in many hours of rehearsal recently to deliver a performance that will have audiences connecting with a disease that affects so many families.

“Beyond the Rain” is a two-act drama written by playwright Weldon Payne from Manchester. The story follows a middle-aged daughter who finds herself having to set aside her own dreams to care for her mother who has developed Alzheimer’s. Performances are scheduled for March 1-3 at the Manchester Arts Center, 128 E. Main St., and proceeds will benefit Alzheimer’s Tennessee.

 “The show itself is universal,” said director Noel Clements. “In addition to the show being a fundraiser, the show deals with Alzheimer’s, dementia and the family members who are affected by it. A lot of people will be able to relate to the situations that the characters go through. The play will also have some surprising action, excitement and energy.”

The play is set in the 1970s, when a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s was relatively rare. The plot focuses on the reality that the caregiver for a person with Alzheimer’s is sometimes the only person aware of what it’s really like living with someone who has the disease.

“Anyone can relate to this show,” added Clements. “It primarily focuses on the development of the disease in the 1970s. Alzheimer’s disease wasn’t commonly known in that time period. People just thought that people forgetting things came with old age. The daughter is the primary caregiver in the play, and it shows the struggles within the family as well as with others who don’t really understand what’s going on with the unfortunate progression of the disease. It shows the human struggle of Alzheimer’s.”

Throughout the performance, audiences will gain an understanding of the role of the caregiver as she is taken through moments of clarity, confusion, disorientation and the sometimes out-of-character behaviors that a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease may exhibit.

Because the primary caregiver is the person who is around the most, friends and family members not present every day during they aren’t able to fully understand the extent of what the caregiver goes through on a daily basis.

“Alzheimer’s and dementia truly affects everyone,” added Regional Coordinator of Alzheimer’s Tennessee Fran Gray.

“I was able to draw from my experiences I had with Alzheimer’s and dementia during my role as a caregiver in this play,” said cast member Jennifer Jernigan. “I know audience members will be able to draw from my character. It’s challenging for people who are having to go through it.”

The purpose of the play is to provide comfort and support to caregivers, education to friends and loved ones, as well as provide financial support for Alzheimer’s Tennessee to continue to provide help and support for individuals and families facing Alzheimer’s and dementia.

“Even though the subject of Alzheimer’s and dementia can be solemn, this play is not a downer,” Clements commented. “The play follows real people, real problems and real relationships. There will be some comic relief, humor, touch of romance, tension, sibling rivalry and a surprise intruder. Audiences definitely won’t fall asleep during this show.”

The cast includes: Jessica Jernigan as Edna; Carolyn Bradford as Mama; Joel Longstreth as Alva Lee; Bradley Ramsey as Johnny; Terry Bradford as Harvey Joe; Sheila Cagle as Margaret; Zuri Jernigan as Jennifer and Sean Amidon as Curt.

All proceeds from the performances will benefit the Alzheimer’s Tennessee organization to promote brain health through education and to serve those facing Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.

The play will begin at 7 p.m. on March 1 and March 2 and at 2 p.m. on March 3. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased and picked up at the Alzheimer’s Tennessee Regional office located in Tullahoma. For more information, call 931-434-2348.

Faith Few can be reached by email at ffew@tullahomanews.com.