FREE SPEECH ZONE | “What’s the Word For” left me speechless, crying, trembling, then empowered!


“What’s the Word For”

A new play by Jeffrey Hatcher

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Speechless, that’s what I am, speechless, as I struggle to find the words for Jeffrey Hatcher’s newest play, currently running at the Illusion Theater in Minneapolis through April 20, 2012. Tears, tears streaming down my face, tears of heightened emotions, heightened beyond description, beyond words paralyzed me, a person with a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) as I watched the story unfold before my very eyes last night. Trembling, trembling with fear and sadness, trembling with gratitude and the utmost respect for the playwright, the actors, the theater company and the sponsors who made this performance possible. Speechless, filled with tears, and trembling, I sit among others in a darkened theater, waiting. Waiting for what? I hold my partner’s hand, and I wait. We wait together. A day passed before I become empowered, once again.

This is not an easy play. At the beginning, it is slow. It is slow and repetitious. It is slow and repetitious, filled with redundant rituals. It is slow and repetitious, filled with redundant rituals, the daily routines that make life possible, when life as you previously knew has been changed forever. Maybe you are a person who has had a life changing injury such as a Brain Injury or maybe you are a person who cares about and for someone else with a life altering injury or illness. And yes, maybe there is a love beyond all words to describe a love that can survive such devastation. Either way, the loving and the caring for and about each other, can and does go both ways, sometimes. This play shows the tremendous power of such love against all odds.

Family, what is family? Is family the ancestral clan into which we are born? Is family the nucleus we create once we reach adulthood and create new biological family? Is family the countless medical providers, who often go without recognition, for helping to save our forever changed and altered lives, those who save the ghost of the person we are, who we were, and who we might have been alone with the new person left to survive? Is family the friends and neighbors and strangers on the street who recognize each other, regardless of similarities or differences? Is family a group of strangers, thrown together into a group home after a debilitating injury or illness, who must learn to get along, not by choice, but by necessity? Is family the people who always stick by you no matter what happens? Is family the individuals or groups of individuals, who get too tired and toss you out to the care of someone else? Or is family anyone you choose to make your own and choose to love again and again, each day, for no particular reason, other than for the fact you do?

Crisis, what does one do in a time of crisis? What keeps you calm? What automatic calls does one make? Whom do you avoid in a crisis? Upon whom might you depend during a crisis? What happens when a short term crisis turns into a long term plan of care? What if plans A, B, C…. L, M, N, O, P…. XYZ fall apart and fail, when you or someone you love is in crisis or may be in crisis sometime soon. What happens if you are trying to avoid another’s crisis, while also preparing for your own? Can one really ever prepare for a crisis beyond all imagination or just go with the flow? What’s the word for a fool proof plan, the genesis on which you can depend, no matter what, so the apple of your eye will survive in the end?

If your life or the life of anyone you know and love has been completely changed, due to accident or illness, please see this play. Then tell everyone you know whose lives have been changed by accidents or illnesses, to see this play. Life may never go back to the way it was before, and there are probably more questions than answers, but you are not alone. I think that’s the final message of the play. No matter what, we are not alone, and we can often handle more than we ever imagined possible, especially with someone else in our life, who loves us as dearly as we love them, even if we can’t always express it, or find the perfect words to say.

Thank you Jeffry Hatcher for writing this play! Thank you to the Illusion Theater developing this play during the 2011 Fresh Ink Series. Thank you to the actors, sponsors, and audience members who make each night of theater magical even if tearful. For more information, call 612/339-4944. Discounted tickets are available with the code: CAREWTWF for all evening performances. Contact Raina at if you cannot afford tickets, need comps, or would like to schedule a group gathering.

© April 6, 2012 Marie G. Cooney