Poignant story of memory loss and life-affirming journey to be staged at SJU

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October 14, 2019

By Connor Kockler ’22

actors on stage

Photos credit: Danilo Moroni 

"The Nature of Forgetting," conceived and directed by Guillaume Pigé, is based on a simple yet powerful premise: What happens when our memory starts to fade? 

This poignant story of the struggles of memory loss is also a life-affirming journey and a celebration of the human soul.

Theatre Re will be presenting “The Nature of Forgetting” at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 8, at the Stephen B. Humphrey Theater on the SJU campus as part of the Fine Arts Series at SJU and the College of Saint Benedict.

Theater Re is a London-based production company that explores different topics of the human condition in their work.  Based on consultation with University College London psychologist Kate Jeffrey and interviews with older adults, “The Nature of Forgetting” paints a true to life picture of living with dementia and illuminates the struggles, but also hope and perseverance of people experiencing it.

Tom, the play’s main character, is a middle-aged father struggling with early onset dementia. Preparing for a party one day triggers his memories, sending the audience on a journey through his life. As major events come and go, jumping around through the years, we see a life well lived and that our age and memory don’t need to define us.

Stirring music and stunning visuals add to the story. Chords rise and fall, and colors become brighter and darker as Tom’s mind works to remember what all happened and moves through the highs and lows of his recollections.

“The music, which is played live, is so hauntingly beautiful.  It soars and gathers pace in time to the story being told, from the frenetic ‘Banquet Trance’ to the softness and gentleness of ‘Isabella’s Theme’ it perfectly matches the action on stage,” said Theatre Weekly.

“The Nature of Forgetting” is a true ensemble piece, each character contributing to the overall picture of joy, laughter and loss. Its premise is both exquisitely simple and inherently complex, a concept that is reflected in both the narrative and the execution,” wrote Miro Magazine in London.

“Each actor’s portrayal projects outwards and yet exhibits a series of microscopic details, all of which add to the canvas of the production. Movements in the wings are intentionally subtle and aspects of memory delicately leak into each other,” the magazine continued.

Plan to stay after the performance for a panel discussion exploring the multiple facets of memory this performance raises. This panel will feature a Theater Re company member; faculty from multiple disciplines including psychology, biology and nursing; and a representative from the Alzheimer’s Association.

Tickets are $28 for adults, $25 for seniors, and $21 for CSB/SJU faculty and staff. Youth and students (with ID) get in for $15, and CSB/SJU student tickets are $10.

For tickets, call the Benedicta Arts Center Box Office At 320-363-5777 or order online.

Theatre Re will be talking about the science behind “The Nature of Forgetting” at 10 a.m. Friday, Nov. 8 at the Whitney Senior Center in St. Cloud. The group will also conduct two workshops with CSB and SJU theater students and students from the biology, psychology and nursing departments.

In a related discussion, a faculty panel will discuss “True Memories and False Histories” at 7 p.m. Nov. 6 at a site TBD. The panelists include Ted Gordon, visiting assistant professor of First-Year Seminar; and Aric Putnam, professor of communication. The event is open to the public.

This performance is sponsored in part by The Club Total Fitness and CentraCare.