The Joplin Little Theatre is partnering with the Area Agency on Aging for a powerful one-night fundraiser on October 5 at the Harry M. Cornell Arts & Entertainment Complex. “Breadcrumbs,” a play written by Jennifer Haley, is a poetic interpretation of one person’s struggle with dementia.

Diane Martinous, one of the lead actors, describes the event as an evening of H-O-P-E. “Hope Opens People’s Eyes,” Martinous said, explaining her acronym. “After moving from LA to help care for my mother, it became clear to me how much our senior citizens need an advocate. I was aware of so many people who were now experiencing different scenarios with friends and family members who were struggling with memory issues.”

Martinous knew she wanted to do something to make a difference. “I kept thinking, what could we do to contribute to the community and the theatre, which has always been a great love of mine?”

In 2022, while having dinner with her friend and fellow thespian, Ashley Trotnic, she shared an idea to align the theatre with different charity organizations for a yearly benefit production. Trotnic loved the idea and the two women, who both starred in Joplin Little Theatre’s 2018 production of Steel Magnolias, went to work. The 2023 partnership with Area Agency on Aging started to take shape and Trotnic found Breadcrumbs right away.

“Things were falling into place,” Martinous said. “What I feel is so powerful and unique about this play is that the audience is experiencing it through the eyes of an unreliable narrator, Alida, who is our sufferer.”

The main character, Alida, is a reclusive fiction writer diagnosed with dementia, who must depend upon a troubled young caretaker to complete her autobiography. The play showcases the challenges of living with dementia and relying on a caregiver, and the struggles they both experience navigating the detrimental effects of the disease.

The play will be directed by Dr. John Green, a professional theatre director and professor of theatre at Columbia College Chicago. Dr. Green has received “best director” awards at festivals including: The London Student Drama Festival, The National Student Drama Festival of Great Britain, and the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival.

Martinous hopes the October 5 event is the first of many collaborations to benefit worthy causes. Her vision is to make a difference with the funds raised and also to help increase awareness for the nonprofits, as well as provide an opportunity for the Joplin Little Theatre to attract new supporters. Martinous encourages other charities to reach out about potential partnerships, 417.623.3638,

All tickets are presold for this event at VIP tickets are $125 and include a reception starting at 6 p.m. with drinks and hors d’oeuvres and an opportunity to meet the director and staff from Area Agency on Aging. General admission tickets, $100. The performance starts at 7 p.m., Harry M. Cornell Arts & Entertainment Complex, 212 W. 7th St., Joplin.