Director Daniel Raymond Nadon has been waiting for the right time and the right cast to stage "Day Trips."
"It's a show I've had in the back of my mind for a long period of time," Nadon said. "It's not an easy show to watch or participate in because it deals with the darkest side of caregiving in addition to the powerful love that occurs between a caregiver and the family member being cared for.
"I waited until I had four actors who I thought could swing it ... The grandmother is a key role. Donnagene Palmer was available, and when she's available I tend to run with it."
The cast of “Day Trips” features, clockwise from top left, Donnagene Palmer, Christine Fowler, Jenna Cintavey and Pat
"Day Trips" opens Friday for a two-weekend run at Kent State University at Trumbull.
Jo Carson's play deals with Alzheimer's disease and how it effects one family. The narrator Pat (Christine Fowler) is looking back on the time when she was caregiver for both her mother (Pat Rogan), who has recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer's, and her grandmother (Palmer).
''Her mind is fairly sharp but she's in denial about her daughter's disease," Nadon said.
WHAT: "Day Trips"
WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Oct. 12 and 3 p.m. Sunday and Oct. 13.
WHERE: Kent State University at Trumbull Theater, 4314 Mahoning Ave. N.W., Champion
HOW MUCH: $10 for adults, $8 for students and senior citizens. For reservations or more information, call 330-675-8887.
And, as the narrators' memories play out on stage, Pat is played by Jenna Cintavey in those scenes.
"Like Tennessee Williams' memory plays, the person is looking back on what has already happened," Nadon said. "It is fractured into individual scenes. It's not linear. The audience is looking at all these fractured memories as they unfold, and they try to piece them together, just as the person looking back does, the narrator. That's the fun of it. The audience has to understand what Pat went through and how she came out on the other side. It's a real strength-through-struggle play."
With two larger scale productions on the 2013-14 schedule - a hearing and deaf theater version of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" and the musical "Spring Awakening" - Nadon wanted a more intimate show on the schedule, and "Day Trips" also fulfills what he sees as the mission of the university's theater program.
''We want to reach out and tell stories that are helpful to the community at large," he said.
And they've learned just how relevant the issues in the play are. During the rehearsal process, both one of the cast members and an assistant stage manager had to take on the role of caregiver to family members dealing with health issues.
"I'm surprised how many of us have caregiving in our past or friends who have a connection to it currently," Nadon said. "It's something we all have a relationship with."