My name is Thomas Morgan Jones, I’m the artistic director for Theatre New Brunswick.
My MS diagnosis came after a case of optic neuritis. As with many people, months of tests followed by an MRI led to the news in the neurologist’s office. I’ve heard from many people who have been diagnosed with a disease, and from their loved ones, that processing this kind of news is very similar to the stages of grieving: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. My journey has been very similar.
From where I am today, I can look back and realize that the difference between then and now is the way I define myself. Shortly after the diagnosis, I would have said, “My name is Thomas and I have MS.” Now I say, “My name is Thomas and I am a husband, a son, an artist…and I have MS.” The disease does not define me, it’s only part of the definition of me. That said, I am very lucky to be in excellent health, which makes this distinction perhaps a little easier.
As a theatre artist and a playwright, I am a storyteller. Once I found myself in a place of acceptance about my MS, my story and the stories of so many others became something I needed to bring to the stage. “Sam in Three” is a short play about a fictionalized character that is diagnosed with MS at the same time that his wife discovers she is pregnant. The nine months of pregnancy mirror nine months of Sam’s deteriorating health. When I was writing the play, it slowly evolved from a story about personal struggle to one that is also about social and political questions about access to treatment and healthcare in Canada.
As an artist, and as a person, I am stronger for my diagnosis and what it has meant to my development and how I see the world. Now, in the extraordinary and humbling position of being the leader of a regional theatre in Canada, I am sharing my story as a reading with audiences in Fredericton and New Brunswick. This first reading is just that: sharing. I look forward to seeing where the conversation takes us!
Sam in Three is a play written by Thomas Jones. As part of the playwright’s process, the play will be ‘read’ in public for feedback and audience comments. The reading takes place at Theatre New Brunswick’s Studio Theatre, located at 55 Whiting Road, Fredericton, NB on Friday August 14 at 7:30 pm. Admission is pay what you can.