About Alma Matters Productions

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About Alma Matters Productions

A Note from Sarah Marchand:
 

My Grandmother, Alma Decevito, was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease in early 2000. She was told that she would not live past 2005. Thanks to her supportive community and determined nature, Alma kept thriving until 2017. Inspired by her strength and persistence, Alma Matters Productions seeks to harness the social power of theatre in an increasingly physically disconnected world. Launched in 2016, we are an arts collective committed to producing and creating works that examine social prejudices against mental health, ageism, gender disparity, body image and racial inequality.

 

How it Started:

People living with Alzheimer’s are often regarded as ‘empty shells’, a hollow vessel of the person they once were. In 2015, when I was accepted into my first academic conference, "From Memory Loss to Memory Shift: Rethinking the Discourse of Pathology," I had the opportunity to share my grandma's experience with the disease. Using journal excerpts, my performance paper, “Alma Matters: Revisiting Memory Loss” contends that my grandmother, Alma, did not turn into an empty shell–rather, her wit, brutal honesty, and tender affection remained, and deeply shaped my journey as an Artist. Her retention of certain facts and memories offered the unique perspective of a young woman growing up in the early twentieth century, a time greatly contrasting the social, political, and identity constructs that we know today. Most importantly, Alma's condition has shown the power of human connection, and the endless strength that is found through love. My grandfather, John Decevito, loved Alma before her condition and continued to love her as strongly as Alma, his wife and best friend, until their final days.

 

Following the Memory Loss Conference, my piece was invited to perform for Nightwood Theatre's “Write from the Hip” Program. After being well received from both readings, I gained the courage to apply for the 2016 Fringe Festival . I didn't have a show in mind and - as most 'Fringers' know, you need to put a company name in order to apply. I thought to myself, "If Alma could get me through two public readings, she can help me with this." And so a company name was born.

"We all have a dual nature, one that is socially acceptable and one that is unfamiliar, darker, perhaps even scary. But these are two identities within us, and I am eager to explore both sides."

Why 'Alma Matters' + Ladybug?

The Latin translation of alma (nourishing, kind), and mater (mother) reminds me of my maternal roots, and how it takes a community of love and support for individuals to flourish. Much of my practice has been cultivated through academia. My education is very important to me, not because it's something to put on my resume, but because school has always been a challenge: I have dyslexia and struggled a lot in my studies. Yet thanks to inspiring classes, professors, and my close friends and family, I managed to fumble my way to a Master's degree. I, like Alma, thrived because of my supportive community. My Alma Mater is deeply rooted to my identity, and, of course, my grandma Alma will always matter to me as well. I truly hope that all of our works offer a sense of home and belonging for audiences.

 

A ladybug. A lady and a bug. I've always loved the idea of a lady - someone feminine, delicate, proper - embedded with a bug. We all have a dual nature, one that is socially acceptable and one that is unfamiliar, darker, perhaps even scary. But these are two identities within us, and I am eager to explore both sides.

 

Oh, and...Grandma loved ladybugs. That too.

 

As John Steinbeck famously said, “The theater is the only institution in the world which has been dying for four thousand years and has never succumbed. It requires tough and devoted people to keep it alive". Defying medical experts, I firmly believe that the love and support Alma was given for 17 years helped her to keep going. We need passionate and dedicated theatre artists to keep this wonderful art form to persevere as well. Alma Matters.

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