This year for Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month in March, actress and MS activist Kim Carroll wanted to do something a little different.
There’s been the taco and tequila fundraisers and bingo fundraisers the Quincy-based Main Street Girls Against MS do on a regular basis, but Carroll’s love of theatre helped her move on to a bigger idea, bringing a one woman show about living with MS to Plumas County.
The Main Street Girls Against MS will present “Above the 37th Parallel,” a play by Nancy J. Jones, to kick off MS Awareness Month on Friday through Sunday, March 6 through 8, at the West End Theatre on the corner of Crescent and Main streets in Quincy. The play begins at 7 p.m., Friday and Saturday, with a matinee Sunday at 2 p.m.
Carroll first learned of the play in 2014 when she scoured the internet looking for plays that had characters with MS. “I was just looking for a play that had one character,” said Carroll. What she found was Jones’ one-woman show. She contacted the playwright and got permission to do it.
But Carroll herself got sick and worn down a bit, she was in other shows, life intervened for awhile and before she knew it five years had passed. About eight months ago she thought of it again, took it to her organization, Main Street Girls Against MS, and they were happy to support it.
“This is uncharted territory for us. Hoping for the best out of it,” said Carroll.
She was taking photos for a dramaworks production for pre-show press when she ran into Earl Thompson and told him what she was planning. He threw his and Edie O’Connor’s support behind it, too. With Pachuca Production’s Tina Terrazas coming in to direct, she had all the elements in place to produce the show.
The play takes its name from the fact that most MS diagnosis comes from those living above the 37th parallel. Jones’ play takes place in her walk-in closet as she works her way through her shoe collection, getting rid of those she can no longer wear because of MS.
“One week before I found the play I was getting rid of boots, clunky shoes and anything that was too high,” said Carroll.
That it would take place in a closet full of past shoes that a woman with MS would have to let go of as illness takes up its role in her new life is something that Carroll immediately related to.
“Basically the show touches on things anyone with MS can relate too. And not just MS, but anyone living with a chronic illness,” said Carroll.
The cathartic play runs 50 minutes with one intermission with a Q&A after each performance. There are no advance tickets, but a donation of $10 in lieu of a ticket is asked at the door.
Carroll is also exhibiting her photos at The Drunk Brush on Grover Alley in Quincy from now until the end of March in conjunction with the show. The Main Street Girls Against MS will be hosting a bingo fundraiser at Plumies in Quincy on Sunday, Feb. 16, at noon to kick off the season of events and awareness.
The play is sponsored and supported by Main Street Girls Against MS, dramaworks, and Pachuca Productions.