Health Advocacy Through the Performing Arts Making An Impact
By: Bridget Fleury ║HEALTH & ENTERTAINMENT
New Orleans, LA - How do you teach the mind, touch the body, reach the soul of a man, woman or child? With a reflection of themselves, not in the mirror, but on the stage. Playwright, Garrett Davis’ mission to educate and advocate with laughter is making an impact with audiences across the nation with his touring Performing Arts series. Illness does not discriminate - not void of race, age or gender; so consequently, families and communities are afflicted by various health issues sharing similar experiences, questioning yet learning to cope and comfort.
What is it about these productions that audiences and companies find so compelling? Touring urban theatre stage plays estimates a minimum 4 million theatre-goers over the past 33 years with dysfunctional yet humorous relationship-themed productions by Shelley Garrett, David E. Talbert, Je'caryous Johnson, and one of the most successful playwrights Tyler Perry. Over 20 years ago, when Davis momentarily followed this path of salacious content with a twist of humor from a matriarch that spews wisdom with a touch of sass underpinned by inspirational music, he realized the opportunity to make a greater impact with his audience that would distinguish his production from everybody else.
For Davis, it became crystal clear, that is, entertain while simultaneously raising the awareness of caregiving and diabetes. It is with this desire that the platform of "taking care of the caregiver" was birth with “Mama's Girls” that celebrates its 6th year of touring when five ordinary sisters come together to face the reality of their mother's declining health. His production company, GDavis Productions, partnered with AARP to launch the "Prepare to Care" project - a national outreach effort that raises the awareness of caregiving as well as with the American Diabetes Association.
Another production, "Forget Me Not" is more personal for Davis as it was written to provide closure for his real-life inability to cope with and care for his Grandma Goodness stricken with Alzheimer's. His outreach, advocacy and awareness for Alzheimer's led to successful partnerships with the US Against Alzheimer’s Network, Emory Hospital's Brain Center and AstraZeneca that allows him to reach more people and make a difference in people’s lives. His partnership with Emory Hospital's Brain Center successfully registered over 100 participants for clinical trials.
As Davis states, "I would hate for there to be a cure but it didn't apply to us for lack of knowledge." In addition, as U.S. Ambassador for the National Alzheimer's Association, Davis learned more about the disease, and the regulatory laws as well as the platform to educate and further share the importance of the caregiver. He co-founded The African American Network Against Alzheimer's with Honorary Co-Chairs former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher, Rev. Al Sharpton, The Honorable Kay Coles James and Melody Barnes, formerly of the Obama Administration.
His latest production, Daddy’s Boys: Broken Promises that tackles the missing-link in the family dynamic of a father’s presence versus an absent provider. Whose suffering is greater – the son or the father? Can they put aside differences and start anew before an illness consumes their lives? Does dad deserve a second chance? Garrett Davis’ reality infotainment where people share a connection or identify with the emotions of a character. Garrett Davis impacting the way we learn, feel, think and live our best lives!