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‘Down the Rabbit Hole’ play sheds light on Parkinson’s Disease

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Courtesy%3A+Nichole+Hamilton
Courtesy: Nichole Hamilton

Courtesy: Nichole Hamilton

Courtesy: Nichole Hamilton

Down the Rabbit Hole with Dr. Parkinson is a new play directed by New Mexico State University Assistant Professor of Theatre Nichole Hamilton and assistant-directed by NMSU Theatre Arts major Maggie Jane Simpson. It educates its audience about Parkinson’s disease while entertaining. The show had five performances from April 5 until April 8.

The play was created through a series of workshops during fall 2017. It centers around stories that real people with Parkinson’s disease have experienced, and explains how Parkinson’s disease affects the brain, as well as its symptoms. The piece was a blend of actors and non-actors, students and teachers, and people who have Parkinson’s disease and people who do not have it.

Down the Rabbit Hole with Dr. Parkinson is made up of an ensemble cast, which includes: Sammi Armstrong as Alice, Elaine Brink as Grandma, Dormouse, and Caterpillar, Xodia Choate as the Bunny, Timothy Ecton as Dr. Parkinson, John Hamilton as Grandfather, Michael Holt as Brother, Train Passenger, Mad Hatter, and De, Jaidan Jaramillo as Sister, Train Passenger, March Hare, and Dum, and Kay Lilley as Mom, Train Passenger, and Queen of Hearts. 

John Hamilton brought the idea of this project to NMSU’s Theatre Arts department. His goal is to establish a Disease Registry for Parkinson’s in New Mexico.

“We are within inches of getting a registry. But the problem that we have is money, funding for the conference,” said John Hamilton. He continued, “We need to get the attention of people, locally and statewide, about the subject of Parkinson’s.”

Trying to find a way to reach his local community, Hamilton said, “I thought about theatre. Now, I’m not a theatre person, but I thought that it was a wonderful way of approaching the problem of Parkinson’s disease.”

Simpson, Assistant Director in the project, added that the primary goal for our project was to raise awareness, and second, have a disease registry for persons with Parkinson’s in New Mexico.

The story begins with Alice, the main character, played by Sammi Armstrong, an NMSU Theatre Arts major, at dinner with her family. When her Grandfather, played by John Hamilton, experiences tremors brought on by his Parkinson’s, the family reacts negatively. This confuses Alice.

Alice then goes on an adventure through the brain and wonderland. Alice meets Dr. Parkinson, played by Timothy Ecton, an NMSU Theatre Arts major. Dr. Parkinson and the ensemble teach Alice about Parkinson’s disease through a game of red light/green light, a tea party, a hallucination, and a misadventure at a bank.

After leaving wonderland, Alice returns to dinner with her family, where her Grandfather re-experiences his tremors. This time, though, Alice understands what her Grandfather is going through and responds positively.

Nichole Hamilton explained that she and John Hamilton “…sat down and talked about what the mission of the project would be. And I think he really wanted to do a play that would entertain, educate, engage the community, raise awareness about Parkinson’s, and hopefully instigate advocacy. And I was all in agreement with that.”

Armstrong said that “The rehearsal process was interesting because we didn’t have the whole play at the beginning so we would rehearse a scene or rehearse a concept and make it into a scene.”

Kay Lilley, another member of the cast, explained that she “found the entire experience really fascinating”.

“The process was unfamiliar to me because I’ve never been involved in theatre, much less being part of the creative team and the writing team” said Lilley “The process was really cool and I really loved that we used real experiences from people who have shared their stories with us. To me, that made it even more meaningful.”

Lilley continued, “I think the play does a really nice job of portraying what kinds of symptoms you might see, and probably most importantly, ways in which you can respond when they’re [people with Parkinson’s disease] showing the symptoms… You’re present in their present, and you don’t try to drag them into yours.”

Regarding the outcome of the project, John Hamilton said that, it had turned out to be a remarkable experience, and he hopes that it’s something that can bear fruit in form of better therapy, better understanding of how Parkinson’s works.”

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5 Responses to “‘Down the Rabbit Hole’ play sheds light on Parkinson’s Disease”

  1. Evelyn ray on April 9th, 2018 5:51 pm

    In April of last year, i started on natural parkinsons disease herbal treatments from RICH HERBS FOUNDATION, i am happy to report this PD herbal treatment worked very effectively. My parkinson is totally under control, i had a total decline in symptoms, the tremors, shaking, stiffness, congnition and speech problems stopped. Visit rich herbs foundation official web page w w w. richherbsfoundation. c o m. My family are amazed at the change and rapid recovery from parkinsons disease.

    [Reply]

  2. evelyn on April 9th, 2018 7:08 pm

    My parkinson is totally under control through PD herbal treatment from Rich Herbs Foundation, i had a total decline in symptoms, the tremors, shaking, stiffness, congnition and speech problems stopped. Visit rich herbs foundation official web page w w w. richherbsfoundation. c o m. I am happy to report this PD herbal treatment worked very effectively. My family are amazed at the change and rapid recovery from parkinsons disease.

    [Reply]

  3. Shorai Erikson on April 10th, 2018 6:38 pm

    Parkinson’s symptoms first appeared when I was 68. I noticed a vibration in right foot and then right hand. After about 18 months a shake and/or tremor. Twelve months later, shaking. My neurologist. Started me on entacapone,levodopa, carbidopa, and pramipexole to reduce symptoms and slow down progression but I could not tolerate them for long due to severe side effects. I decided to adopt a more natural approach and started on Parkinson’s Disease Herbal formula from Green House Herbal Clinic, the PD natural formula immensely helped my condition, i had a total recovery from Parkinson’s disease with this natural herbal formula treatment. Visit Green House Herbal Clinic official web site ww w. greenhouseherbalclinic. Weebly. com. I feel alive again! The tremors, Shaking, Joint Stiffness and other symptoms has subsided.  I am very pleased with this treatment. I feel very well now and exercise regularly, sometimes i totally forget i ever had Parkinson’s, My family are amazed at the change and rapid recovery from PD. since the procedure I enjoy walking the dog for my daily exercise. DON’T GIVE UP HOPE!!!

    [Reply]

  4. Shorai Erikson on April 10th, 2018 6:39 pm

    Parkinson’s symptoms first appeared when I was 68. I noticed a vibration in right foot and then right hand. After about 18 months a shake and/or tremor. Twelve months later, shaking. My neurologist. Started me on entacapone,levodopa, carbidopa, and pramipexole to reduce symptoms and slow down progression but I could not tolerate them for long due to severe side effects. I decided to adopt a more natural approach and started on Parkinson’s Disease Herbal formula from Green House Herbal Clinic, the PD natural formula immensely helped my condition, i had a total recovery from Parkinson’s disease with this natural herbal formula treatment. Visit Green House Herbal Clinic official web site w w w . greenhouseherbalclinic . Weebly . com. I feel alive again! The tremors, Shaking, Joint Stiffness and other symptoms has subsided.  I am very pleased with this treatment. I feel very well now and exercise regularly, sometimes i totally forget i ever had Parkinson’s, My family are amazed at the change and rapid recovery from PD. since the procedure I enjoy walking the dog for my daily exercise. DON’T GIVE UP HOPE!!!

    [Reply]

  5. Josef Martindale on April 16th, 2018 11:11 pm

    I am a 49-year-old man. My Parkinson’s disease appeared at the age of 47. My symptoms, at the beginning, were fine tremors and rigidity with joint stiffness. My neurologist prescribed entacapone with levodopa, carbidopa, and pramipexole. I opted not to go on prescription medicines but decided on using herbs instead, October 18, 2017 after being on the herbs you recommended, i had a total recovery from Parkinson’s disease with this natural herbal formula treatment. The tremors, Shaking, Joint Stiffness has subsided. When I stumbled upon you guys, it was just pure instinct. And from that day on it has been one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life. The caring that goes into explaining what herbs work for whatever ails me is astounding. In today’s world where so many are after a quick buck, selling without care, The Herbal Garden’s staffs amplifies the difference. I’m a believer in karma, and for generations to come, this is a herbal store that will be leaving it’s footprint in this world. Visit THE HERBAL GARDENS official web site www. theherbalgardens. org A world of thanks to The Herbal Gardens!”

    [Reply]

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‘Down the Rabbit Hole’ play sheds light on Parkinson’s Disease