Second dementia-friendly play coming Feb. 21

Matthew Widman's play "In the Garden" explores a family's struggles to make decisions together about a loved one with Alzheimer's disease.

Courtesy of Living at Home of the Park Rapids Area

The second play in a three-part cycle promoting a dementia-friendly culture is coming virtually to Park Rapids.

Living at Home of the Park Rapids Area (LAH) will present a free, virtual performance of “In the Garden” at 1 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 21 through Zoom. Tickets are available through Eventbrite at

The play is Part 2 of a trilogy that makes up the Remember Project, a program funded in part by a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board.

The Remember Project is designed to help family members, care partners, local businesses and the broader community talk about dementia and the most well-known form of memory loss, Alzheimer’s disease.

“We hosted the Remember Project’s virtual production of ‘Steering into the Skid’ last fall,” LAH Executive Director Connie Carmichael said in a press release. “The combination of watching a play together followed by facilitated discussion is an excellent way to help create better understanding about the challenges facing those with memory loss as well as their families and friends.”


“In the Garden” was written by Matthew Widman and published in “The MemoryCare Plays,” a book of three one-act plays edited by Dr. Margaret A. Noel.

Widman said the play is dedicated to his father, who inspired the main character, “a man who despite his illness, never loses his observant eye for the splendor and excitement of the world around him.”

The play is set in the home of Arthur Monsetin. His three grown children come together after their mother’s death to discuss a course of action for their father, who is struggling with Alzheimer’s disease.

At times wandering off, lashing out or forgetting the names of his grandchildren, at other times Arthur is lucid, funny and wise. Long ingrained familial tensions come to the surface as the three siblings struggle to treasure their father while coming to terms with his limitations. Jamie, Karen and Peter all have different views about what is best, but their love of their father will guide the way.

“This general scenario is taking place with thousands of families across America every day,” said facilitator Danette McCarthy. “It can feel extremely isolating to face decisions about care and to navigate the journey of decision-making as a family. ‘In the Garden’ is a compassionate invitation to help families and friends support each other through the immense challenges and pressures placed on care partners.”

“In the Garden” was part of the Remember Project that toured the lower St. Croix Valley in the fall of 2015. To date, more than 80 performances have led to discussions about the stigma, fear and isolation associated with dementia. It’s a unique use of theater and conversation to learn and make decisions about the future.

The program is also sponsored by the Minnesota Board on Aging, Heartland Arts, the Park Rapids Dementia Friendly Community Action Team and the Park Rapids Enterprise. To learn more or to register for the event, call 732-3137 or visit

Related Topics: THEATER
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