A Myriad of Memories; Performing Arts as Sherman Cymru Prepares to Premiere Its First English Language Play about Memory Loss Tonight, Karen Price Meets Writer Kaite O'Reilly Who Reveals Her Inspiration for the Piece
Byline: Kaite O'Reilly
KAITE O'Reilly has always been interested in the way in which the brain works. Now the writer has penned a touching new play which looks at the fragility of memory.
The Almond And The Seahorse - which gets its rather pretty title from terms referring to the memory circuitry - is the first English language play from the new Cardiff-based Sherman Cymru.
It was initially commissioned about five years ago by Sgript Cymru - one of the companies which merged to formthe new organisation - so it's been a long process for O'Reilly.
"I have been really fascinated with neuropsychology for many years now and the different parts of the brain that can shape us.
"There's a line in the play which says that if you get hit on the head, you can become a different person - what does that tell you about being human?"
The Almond And The Seahorse, which features a cast of five actors, follows the lives of two couples, both affected by memory loss, which is something which particularly interests the Irish-born writer, who now lives in Ceredigion.
"I'mvery interested at looking at survivors of traumatic brain injury and the changes that can happen if we receive a head injury - personality, sense of self, howwe engage with the world."
O'Reilly has friends who are survivors of traumatic brain injury so she was able to draw on their experiences while writing her play. But she also did much research in both America and on the internet and she also worked with the UK charity Headway.
"They say traumatic brain injury is a 'spent' epidemic - 30 years ago 90% of people who had experienced severe head injury didn't survive but now 90% survive," she says. "But the health system isn't set up to deal with the numbers.
"The majority of care happens in the home, which is the starting point for my play.
"I just wanted to explore what happenswhen youare ina committed, loving relationship but a person's perspective changes (due to a head injury)." But she says she didn't want her play to portray the archetypal "tragic but brave" situation.
"That would be very insensitive to disabled people - I just want to tell a story about people, irregardless of whether they had a head injury or not."
O'Reilly has spent the last few weeks at the Sherman Theatre in Cardiff, which is where the play opens tonight, working with the cast and director. …