Misconceptions are often made about multiple sclerosis, a disease two and a half million people worldwide are living with. As a way to spread awareness about MS, Sarah Price, graduate student in drama therapy, wrote and directed “MS: My Secret,” a non-fictional play about individuals with MS and how they deal with it.
Price was diagnosed with MS in January 2008. She said despite the prevalence of the disease, many people know very little about it, and she had been one of those people.
Last summer, Price interviewed six individuals about how they live with MS. Price said she wasn’t sure what she would hear doing the interviews, but discovered they were hopeful and optimistic.
“There’s kind of like, this cautious optimism,” Price said. “They know that something could happen but they’re still upbeat.”
Price said the idea for doing a play came from Sally Bailey, associate professor of communication studies, theater and dance. Price said she wanted to do something for her final project with MS but didn’t know what. She said Bailey suggested she write a play that could be presented during MS Awareness Week, March 2-8.
“It has helped spread awareness and has also helped me by hearing their stories and realizing they are living life to the fullest,” Price said.
Price said she took all last semester to write the play and still revised it throughout the rehearsal process.
Lisa Erbe, junior in theater, said she wanted to do the play because she has a friend with MS and wanted to learn more about it. She said her friend would explain things about MS to her, but she didn’t fully understand.
“I knew that sometimes it would cause problems walking, but I didn’t get why,” Erbe said. “Reading it for the first time, I was like, ‘Oh wow, that’s why.'”
Erbe said her first reaction to reading the play was bittersweet.
“I cried because I felt compassion for them, but I was also so enlightened by their hope and by their spirit,” she said.
Datha Sadler, Holton, Kan., resident, said cast member LeAnn Meyer invited her to the play. Sadler said she didn’t know much about MS before attending it, but the play gave her a lot of information. Sadler said she enjoyed seeing how well the characters were portrayed.
“People really got into the character and really did good,” Sadler said.
As for the future of the play, Price said it would be “awesome” to have it produced in other places, possibly even travel to other schools and have it produced. For her, it wasn’t just another project and she said it went beyond just spreading awareness.
“It has helped me grow and learn, too,” she said.