ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Steel Magnolias Performance Leads to Diabetes Education
When Stacey Simms found out her local theater planned to perform Steel Magnolias, her heart sank. While the show is full of humor and heart, as the mother of a child with type 1 diabetes, Simms knows the production is also the source of a lot of outdated information on the condition.
“Steel Magnolias is based on a true story – and a tragic one – but the real life Shelby (Susan Harling) died in 1985.” Simms says. “In the 30-plus years since her brother wrote this play, diabetes research has come a long way and most women with T1D who want children can safely have them.”
Simms is the host of Diabetes Connections, a weekly podcast featuring information about diabetes and was named to Diabetes Forecast Magazine’s People to Know in 2017. This week, her show features a round-table of women who have type 1, who’ve had children, and who have strong opinions and experiences surrounding “Steel Magnolias.”
“When my son was diagnosed just before he turned two, I had friends who took me aside and quietly said, ‘At least you don’t have to worry about him wanting to become pregnant,’” says Simms. “Their only knowledge of type 1 diabetes came from ‘Drink the juice, Shelby!’ I want to help educate so that happens less often.”
Simms reached out to the Davidson Community Players and was thrilled to find they were already thinking about the issue.
“The cast spent a bit of time researching the many advancements in the treatments of the disease, which helped them to understand that what might have happened in the mid 80’s would be very unlikely today,” said Sylvia Schnople, DCP’s Artistic Director. “Education and information is the key to understanding and creating a truly believable character. If Steel Magnolias took place in the current decade, I am sure the outcome would be very different.”
DCP and Simms worked together to gather information to post on the theater’s social media outlets and will provide some printed information for theater goers.
“I knew the Davidson production of “Steel Magnolias” would be a wonderful show,” says Simms. “I’m grateful that they’re going above and beyond to also provide some education that will last long after the curtain comes down.”