LETTERS OF REFERENCE
"The level of raw emotion shows Eliott's ability to connect with any audience. He shares his experience so completely and without reservation. I felt the audience connect with his honesty" Karen Pierce-Stewart, Executive Director, Cancer Care Center of York County, Maine [click on names to read letters in full]
"In my 35 years as a nurse, nurse practitioner, and educator, I have never experienced any performance that so clearly and eloquently describes the process of living through the death of a loved one." Patsy Thompson Leavitt, MS, FNP, Executive Director, Leavitt's Mill Free Health Center
"This is a beautiful performance that enriches the experience of living for all ages." Leslie Morrill, Assistant Principal of Edward Little High School, Auburn, Maine explains how A Finished Heart relates to developing emotional intelligence.
"I hope you will have many more bookings of A Finished Heart as I know first hand what an effective piece of theatre it is." Wil Kilroy, Actor/Director (RE: performance at University of Southern Maine, Gorham)
"It was a moving and enlightening experience to witness Eliott's performance and a privilege to process and reflect on the meaning of A Finished Heart with the audiences. Eliott's professionalism throughout the event planning and performances, his affinity for his audience, and his candor made the experience of sponsoring A Finished Heart a very special event commemorating the Fifth Anniversary of Vermont's Act 39."
Betsy J. Walkerman, President and Treasurer, Patient Choices Vermont.
"I found Eliott's work to offer insight into the dying process that no training has ever been able to convey. His willingness to share his story with heart, honesty and integrity is a rare opportunity for learning and deeper understanding of supporting people in grief." Valerie Jones, LMSW, Program Coordinator, The Center for Grieving Children, Portland, Maine
"It will lead to increased empathy and cultural competency resulting in improved healthcare quality." Timothy J. Richardson MD, VA Maine Healthcare System
"I have to admit that I found myself feeling a bit anxious as the lights dimmed, the music began, and you started to speak. Clearly, it reflected my own discomfort with death and dying. But my anxiety quickly subsided as you drew me and other audience members into your personal world" Sandra L. Caron, Ph.D., Professor of Family Relations, University of Maine, Orono
"Eliott's performance is powerful, rich and raw -- absolutely mesmerizing from start to finish -- and the opportunity for discussion and conversation afterwards was a welcome bonus" Susan Kocen, Senior Community Coordinator, Q Center, Portland, Oregon
"We've received extremely positive feedback ... It is not often that such personal work reverberates with the experiences of so many." Shelley Cohen Konrad, PhD, Director, Interprofessional Education Collaborative, School of Social Work, University of New England
"a real life view of many concepts with which we deal frequently in social work classes: self-determination; loss; love, including same-sex love; relationships; negotiation; death; spirituality; empowerment; self-care; and authenticity."
Sandy Butler, PhD, Professor of Social Work, University of Maine, Orono
"this powerful piece allowed us to learn from a narrative of experience, gave us insights that we might not otherwise uncover and opened important dialogues" Susan B. Sepples RN, CCRN, PhD, Associate Professor, University of Southern Maine School of Nursing
"The performance was intimate, and very moving. Folks in attendance have provided feedback which includes show descriptions such as 'raw', 'honest', 'relevant'" Liz Rodriguez, Co-Chair, Employee Resource Group: Prism, Multnomah County, Oregon
"A Finished Heart will help you to better understand what it means to show up and be present with life, love, and ultimately death." Read more thoughts about A Finished Heart, dying and care from Jana DeCrisofaro, LCSW, Coordinator of Children's Grief Services, The Dougy Center, Portland, Oregon.
MORE AUDIENCE COMMENTS
"I felt like I was in the room – I felt like I was experiencing some of the same emotions – those raw emotions that are so precious to people who love." Camille Hopkins, Researcher, University of Chicago
"opens our hearts to a tenderness and compassion which might well serve to awaken us to a deeper sense of openness and presence, a gripping and soulful performance." Rev. Dr. Glenn H. Turner, Portland, Maine
"Eliott Cherry reveals the most intimate moments of a loving relationship. He shows that in this time of dying there is life lived to the fullest: humor, compassion, dedication, forgiveness, and even anger and frustration. The whole performance is so deeply moving that, at the end, one is inspired simply to sit in silence." Connie Cross, Board President, Allen Avenue Universalist Church, Portland, Maine
"The reality of grief is that it scares us. Grief and the anticipation of grief taps into some of our greatest fears of the unknown. By candidly sharing his experiences as his husband was dying, Eliott Cherry allows all of us to see that we survive and go on to remember when we experience loss. Eliott shows us how love is never extinguished." Jane Mayer, LCSW, Grief and loss psychotherapist, Portland, Oregon
"deeply moving and unforgettable; I was left with a sense of deep reverence for life and for the profound possibilities of being present to love, which death's encounter invites." Caroline Loupe, Licensed Clinical Counselor, Portland, Maine
"When I was a teen growing up in the 70’s, depth of emotion was hidden and not discussed, because to talk about what you felt was embarrassing and made you feel weak. Those were the times. Teens are fortunate that today’s society is more accepting of emotional expression. Still, teens spend much time 'feeling alone' and at times they may feel that there is 'something wrong' with the depth of their emotions. That is not true. Seeing A Finished Heart ... brought back those teen memories of 'feeling' and not knowing if it was okay. Listening to A Finished Heart made me feel like it was. I think the same may happen with today’s teens."
Sally Holt, Collaboration/Teen Librarian, Auburn Public Library, Maine
"The story is a universal one that can impact any committed relationship, regardless of orientation. It is one of love and compassion and commitment, getting to the absolute essence of what it means to be committed to love. I do not believe that anyone experiencing your play can fail to experience both the despair and the triumph of love." Ron Braithwaite, Portland, Oregon
"I've had more than 70 hours of grief training, serve as a Hospice volunteer and am a student at USM's MS/NP options program. Even with many hours of training under one's belt, there is still a lot to learn with regard to individual perspectives. It was outstanding, truly excellent." Theresa Roelke, Maine
"Strong material ... I found myself being cracked open as I listened ... Not just sitting outside, looking in, but rather sitting right next to you. Death is very sacred and personal, without rules or logic. You conveyed the intangible of intimacy in your lives so beautifully in this performance." Mary Jo Carlsen, Musician, Music Educator, Maine
"a deft combination of prose, poetry and music ... a highly personal story of the emotional life of a relationship told through the prism of a great trial ... a testament to both [Eliott Cherry's] skills as a performer and to the material ... that I didn't even want to end." Jon Poupore, Musician, Maine
"This was an amazing piece that seemed more like an intense 20-30 minutes rather than the hour+ it actually was. Eliott segued smoothly from humor to sadness, and from narration to re-enactment of some of the last conversations he had with his dying husband. The music he composed for it was perfect for the piece." Bill Barnert, Cambridge Men's Group, Massachusetts
"As someone who had also been widowed, I resonated with A Finished Heart. ... I much appreciated the craft of this piece. It is filled with details that draw the audience into the inherent drama of the story. ... full of emotion without being sentimental, full of the personal without losing its universal appeal. A Finished Heart is a view from the inside. There were moments when I first saw the piece during which I wanted to rush out of the hall, get away from its intensity, but I also wanted to experience its power to draw my own sorrow out of me." Denis Ledoux, Author, Director of Soleil Lifestory Network, Maine
"I attended the peformance of A Finished Heart on Sunday, May 25, 2014 at the Unitarian Church in downtown Portland [Oregon]. As a hospice chaplain, I was eager to hear Eliott's story. I sat in the front row so I could see and hear plainly. Not long after I was seated, a woman whom I did not know asked if anyone was sitting next to me. I said, 'no, but you are more than welcome.' We introduced ourselves by name and had a brief exchange before the performance got under way.
From the start of seeing and hearing Eliott, I was drawn into the power and beauty of this incredible story of love and companionship, and the truth-telling of journeying together through life, into death, and more life. My heart was broken open to those deeper places within me that long for connection, reconciliation, and belonging. I was moved with gratitude and wonder.
After the performance ended, we were invited to enter into a short time of silence for reflection and contemplation. I felt moved to touch the woman next to me, so I reached out and placed my hand on her knee not knowing how she would respond. She in turn, took my hand in hers. In the silence, we held on to one another. The movement and power of Eliott's performance created an unspoken bond between us that was both profound and ordinary.
Thank you, Eliott, for creating space within my heart and the hearts of many to give and receive love in ways unimagined. I know for certain that I will show up again for A Finished Heart." Mary Elizabeth Peterson, Portland, Oregon
"You could taste it in some moments and smell it in some moments, and then, I loved the humor ... it helps the audience stay with you ... it bubbles a little bit, it was lovely and you can really see in those moments of laughter, the love. " Anonymous audience remark during post-performance discussion
ADDITIONAL AUDIENCE COMMENTS: FROM SURVEY FORMS
I'm grateful for the following comments written on the back of a beautiful poster for the Vermont performances in May, 2018, presented to me as a memento by Patient Choices board president, Betsy Walkerman:
Past or Current