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Story Of Young Woman’s Devastating Brain Injury Told On Stage At Edinburgh Fringe Festival

Play ‘Tracing Grace’ Helping To Raise Awareness Of Encephalitis


Kate Rawlings, Press Officer | 0114 274 4238

A talented young woman has written, directed and is starring in a play which tells the story of her own family’s battle with the devastating brain condition, encephalitis.

Student Annie Eves, 21, part of the Off the Wall Theatre Company is hoping that the week-long run of Tracing Grace at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival last weekend at Paradise in the Vault, will help educate theatre goers about encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain.

The play was inspired by Annie’s sister, Grace, and their family.

Grace was struck down by the deadly condition, which can leave survivors with brain injuries affecting concentration, attention and judgement as well as causing conditions such as fatigue and epilepsy, when she was just three-weeks-old.

Annie believes that poor awareness of the condition, which affects 6,000 people in the UK, was one of the reasons why medics were delayed in diagnosing the cause of Grace’s lack of vision and fits.

“By the time she was diagnosed it was too late and the damage to her brain had already been done,” said Annie, a third year studying acting at Academy of Live and Recorded Arts, London.

The condition left Grace with an acquired brain injury and for the first few years of her life, the youngster was in and out of hospital to undergo a string of surgeries.

Although Grace defied medics by learning to walk and talk, she was left with behavioural problems and learning difficulties, and attends a school for young people with special educational needs..

“Because the illness struck my sister when she was a newborn, she didn’t get a chance to learn all the things most children do in the first few years of their lives,” said Annie.

 “Her behaviour can be off the wall and the smallest thing can trigger her to have a full blown tantrum. It’s particularly difficult now she is a teenager and dealing with all the hormones that come with it. She is starting to realise that she is different.

Annie decided to turn her sister’s story into a play to try to try and help educate audiences about encephalitis in the hope that more people will recognise the condition and be understanding of people with brain injuries.

She said: “Grace is a beautiful person. She loves music and being in calm places and finds it hugely rewarding when we do things together, just the two of us. There were times when I was younger when I’d get upset at people staring at her because she was having a tantrum and not understanding why she was behaving that way.”

Annie says that while some elements of the story have been adapted for dramatic purposes, or left out for being too personal, the play is an honest and true portrayal of the family’s individual experience.

She said: “Our hope is it will be extremely moving and will reach out to anyone who knows someone who has suffered from encephalitis and educate those who don’t.”

Thanking her parents for their support, she added: “They’ve done such a fantastic job and not all parents would have been able to support Grace the way they do. They live their lives around her. They don’t go out for meals, they stay in with her, they fight all of her battles so she gets into the right schools and has the right care.”

Tracing Grace already has the seal of approval of The Encephalitis Society, which has part-funded the production along with a CrowdFunder appeal, and which was given a standing ovation at two recent previews in London.

Court Of Protection Partner at Irwin Mitchell, Joanne Fraser, who has assisted the family, has praised Annie for helping to raise vital awareness about encephalitis.

Expert Opinion
We’ve known Grace and her family for some time and have seen their courage, strength and love for each other as they deal with the devastating effects of encephalitis. Tracing Grace will offer audiences a rare insight into what it is like to live with this condition. It is to Annie’s credit that she has taken on the task of raising awareness of this illness and acquired brain injuries.
Joanne Fraser, Partner

For more information about encephalitis, visit www.encephalitis.info

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