The Lewy Body Society, Keele Drama Society’s “Play in a Day”, and Why it is Important
In attempt to not suck the dick of the society which I chair, I would like to put out a pleasant reminder that the award winning* charity event, Keele Drama Society’s Play in a Day, is approaching at a rapid fire pace. The annual charity event will see the society randomly select a play title and write, produce, rehearse and perform a 24 minute-long play within 24 hours. In 2016 they decided to add 24 sketches- one released each hour and based on a randomly selected title- into the mix. Troubles include physical and mental endurance, learning lines in time and ethical debates regarding the sales of gingerbread men. It is no easy task, but the society rise to the challenge every year.
So, where do the play titles come from? Every year, the society set up a Just Giving page upon which anybody can donate any play title for a minimum donation of £3. It can be simple. It can be weird. It can be “Spongebath Slowdance” for all we care. They will then be assigned a number which helps us select the title of the play randomly at 6pm on Friday 23rd February, as well as the title of the sketches every six hours. Ever wondered how your ideal play title would pan out? Then donate it for a chance of it being selected and brought to life!
Every year Keele Drama Society choose a different charity for all of their charity events throughout the year to contribute towards, and this year they have chosen The Lewy Body Society. Dementia with Lewy Bodies (DLB) is the second most frequent cause of age-related neurodegenerative dementia. Out of the (approximately) 700,000 people with dementia in the UK, 100,000 are thought to have DLB, yet it is known about by very few people. Lewy Bodies themselves are protein deposits that are linked with the death of brain cells, which in turn is linked to diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and, of course, DLB. The difference between the two diseases is the location in the brain where they are based: Parkinson’s disease being based in Substantia Nigra, and DLB spreading throughout the Cerebral Cortex. Keele Drama Society’s Treasurer, Kiera Wade, has a little more to say on the matter:
There were a lot of things about my Granddad that, for years, we believed to be a part of who he was. His ‘quirks’ if you like. He could never tell a story correctly, and there would always be bits and pieces that were completely fabricated. He had a hunchback and a tremor in his hands that we assumed to be from his work as a builder, and he had perfect eye sight but he insisted he couldn’t see a thing. Because of the tremor he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. This is a misdiagnoses that continues to prevail when dealing with LBD.
Despite all this, my Granddad was an incredibly strong person. He moved to England from Galway when he was 15 where he forged a life for himself. One of my most vivid memories of him is arriving at his house to find him standing on the roof. I can’t remember why he was up there but it was a common occurrence.
The LBD got worse gradually but by the end he was a shell of his former self.
One of the main things that differs LBD from Parkinson or Alzheimer’s disease is that the victim has delusions. It was a symptom that was always present, in his stories or in his occasional blindness, but we never realised. I think the delusions were the most traumatic part of the illness, for both him and us. He would talk about being watched, about being wanted by the police. He would scream at us to get out of the house because he thought it was about to collapse. Eventually he thought that he was unable to move, and this manifested physically. It is no surprise that victims suffer heavily with Depression
The thing about LBD is that the symptoms aren’t constant. For days he would completely disappear into this shell and then suddenly he would be himself, if only for long enough to tell a joke. Then he would be gone again.
Granddad died in 2014 while waiting for a place to become available in a specialist dementia facility.
We had never heard of LBD before his diagnoses but more and more people are now known to be suffering from it. Dementia is not just a memory problem and until there is a cure we must keep educating ourselves about how to help our loved ones.
I think that Kiera’s brave insight is enough to inform you on the importance of the work undertaken by The Lewy body Society.
It is not just Keele Drama Society’s Play in a Day that we should support, but every charity event that every society gives up their spare time to undertake. And whilst it is important that our events are fun experiences for us all to enjoy, I think it is equally as important to remember why we give up our time to run these events. The work of The Lewy Body Society needs funding. This coming weekend Keele Drama Society are going to have an absolute blast running Play in a Day, as they always do, and they would love for you to contribute to the amazing cause which they represent. £3, in the grand scheme of things, is nothing for the price of furthering research that could save a life.
In an attempt to not finish on a down note, I’m going to leave you a video of a sketch named “Regicide Squad” that was created at 3am last year, which truly was filmed at the expense of my dignity. If you would like to get involved then you are more than welcome to- the Drama Society will be meeting at 5pm on Friday 23rd February (contact me for further details on Facebook or email- w2l44). Furthermore, donate those play titles and give the society something fun to work with! The final performance will be at 5:36pm on Saturday 24th February in the Exhibition Suite, and will be £3 entry. Keep an eye on the society’s Facebook page for the sketches released hourly.
*Keele University SU’s Best Charity Event 2016/17