The Caregivers

Winner - 2018 NJ State Council on the Arts Artist Fellowship; 2018 semi-finalist Bay Area Play Festival. Called “a pressure cooker” by the cast during a recent reading, "The Caregivers" is the story of two women caring for an Alzheimer’s patient in her studio apartment during the final 13 days of her life. Frances is tired of seeing her mother, Marjorie, suffer needlessly year after year. She can’t...
Winner - 2018 NJ State Council on the Arts Artist Fellowship; 2018 semi-finalist Bay Area Play Festival. Called “a pressure cooker” by the cast during a recent reading, "The Caregivers" is the story of two women caring for an Alzheimer’s patient in her studio apartment during the final 13 days of her life. Frances is tired of seeing her mother, Marjorie, suffer needlessly year after year. She can’t understand why, although Marjorie can no longer walk, communicate, or respond to stimuli, she still eats three meals a day.
She discovers that Anna, the 24/7 aide from Trinidad, has been coaxing Marjorie’s mouth open, pouring puréed food in, and holding her mouth shut while she swallows. Anna sees this as a clever way to get her to eat, but Frances sees it as force-feeding and decides to take over the feedings. Frances starts showing up at the studio apartment three times a day and introducing food to her mother, but sure enough, Marjorie does not eat. What follows is Marjorie’s slow descent to death. Anna is disturbed, left alone with the dying woman, prohibited from even rubbing her lips with water. What’s more, Anna learns that her own mother, who has been watching Anna’s children in Trinidad, has suddenly died of heart failure. Anna must decide whether to stay and keep her job, or return to Trinidad after a seven-year absence. It’s not easy for Frances, either. She is financially strained, harassed by her boss, nagged by her teenaged daughter, and now she’s taking her mother’s death into her own hands. She is also fighting the clock because her sister, who would disapprove, is due back soon from her vacation in Peru. Regardless of the compound stress, the feedings become opportunities for Frances to slow down and remember what an exceptional mother Marjorie was, and to express her love and gratitude. The merciful end is almost near, but Frances catches Anna giving Marjorie water, possibly setting back the dying process—and prolonging Marjorie’s suffering—another few days. Frances erupts and gets physical, but is suddenly stopped by a surprising, pivotal event. Frances and Anna then come to an understanding of each other’s principles and circumstances, and work together to usher Marjorie to peace, at last.
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The Caregivers

Recommended by

  • Cheryl Bear:
    18 Aug. 2019
    An outstanding drama on Alzheimer's and the dilemma a family faces. We are brought into their nightmare and come out with a true understanding of what it is to experience this. Highly recommend!
  • Dominica Plummer:
    14 Mar. 2019
    Anna, Margaret's Trinidadian caregiver, and Margaret's daughter Frances face off as they try to decide how best to deal with Margaret's slow progress towards death, made all the more painful because Alzheimer's has robbed Margaret of her mind while leaving behind a body that needs 24 hour care. Anna is determined to keep Margaret's body comfortable for as long as possible, while Frances is actively working to end her mother's suffering. Zamoyta's deeply moving drama encourages us to empathize with each character even as we wonder how we would act in a similar situation.

Development History

  • Reading
    ,
    Dreamcatcher Repertory Theatre
    ,
    2017
  • Workshop
    ,
    Luna Stage Company
    ,
    2016

Awards

Winner
,
NJ State Council on the Arts Fellowship
,
NJ State Council on the Arts
,
2018