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December 07, 2016
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The Liberty Free Theatre celebrates life

Constance Alexander is an award-winning newspaper columnist, poet and independent producer, as well as playwright, and she has conducted several oral history projects documenting various aspects of western Kentucky history. “I’m treating this work as a spoken opera,” Austin said. “We’ve added some theatrical touches with lighting and sound design, but it is being presented as a reading.”

Austin went on to inform me that the play emerged from a series of interviews with two women that Alexander had conducted for a documentary radio series. One had no health insurance, and the other was so inspired by her struggle that she donated $1,000 to launch a community fundraising effort to help. In the end, both women were hospice patients. “One of the things I see in the play is that it reminds us to see the individual stories,” he said. “It brings the message home. This production is about so much more than just a disease. It’s real and reminds us of the amazing spirit, humanity and what a community can achieve together and what a grand thing that is.”

CROC founder Dr. Thomas Eanelli writes that the organization was “initially established as an alumni program to honor the many brave and courageous patients and families fighting, and surviving, the tragedy of cancer.” He goes on to say that he wanted to create a “mechanism of support and celebration where patients and their families could be themselves, share feelings, show vulnerability, and not feel pity from others.”

Eanellis’ vision for CROC attracts hundreds of people from all walks of life, including myself. He sees “the miracle of connecting as a rejuvenation, a reawakening and an inspirational model for all citizens who face life-changing challenges.” This sentiment—shared by Alexander, Austin, CROC and the LFT—is universal in theme and personal in nature. “We’re hoping that CROC will continue to use this theatrical work as fundraisers for hospice, nursing associations and ongoing events in the community,” Austin said, adding that the playwright is willing to make that possible by waiving certain fees normally associated with licensing the production.