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Cleveland Mother Writes Play About Losing Daughter

[Image courtesy Mary Weems, photo by Michael Oatman]

People grieve in different ways.

Cleveland writer Mary Weems puts her grief on paper.

“If you look at my body of work, I’m writing about what’s going on in the world and usually not the stuff that you sing about,” Weems said.

On a January morning in 2017, a phone call interrupted Weems’ regular workout routine.

“Lifebanc was asking if it was OK to get my daughter’s organs. That’s how I found out she was dead,” she said.

Following her daughter’s suicide, Weems wrote a play about the stages of loss, from giving birth to watching her daughter struggle with mental illness to losing her only child. She performs as herself in “Loss and Found,” which features voiceover (of her daughter speaking) by Ebani Edwards and music by Marcia Houston.

“She had been homeless by choice for a while, off and on, and she had disconnected from me and the family about three years before her suicide,” she said. “My husband would periodically go out in the streets and locate my daughter, and she would always say she didn’t want to see me.”

With performances of “Loss and Found,” Weems seeks audience participation exploring the issues.

“If you share from a deeply personal place, that’s transparent, people are more likely to respond,” she said.

Weems said after sharing her and her daughter’s story she was shocked to learn- often from people she has known for a long time- about their experiences with mental illness.

Larchmere Arts hosts a performance workshop of “Loss and Found” Saturday at 5 p.m.

In a separate play, “Socks,” Weems addresses sex trafficking at Dobama Theatre’s Playwright’s GYM on May 7 at 7 p.m.

Carrie Wise is the deputy editor of arts and culture at Ideastream Public Media.