In 2010, Godeliève Richard, a Swiss dancer and choreographer who had married an American actor and playwright named Jonathan Mirin, fell ill in an apartment in Boston. She was taken to the emergency room with nausea and dizziness, treated for dehydration and diagnosed with a possible virus. The couple drove back to their home in Shelburne Falls, the next morning and soon began making the rounds of doctors and specialists in the western part of the state because the dizziness simply did not go away and a range of other debilitating symptoms settled in.
Three years later, at a clinic in Switzerland, Richard was diagnosed with electro-hypersensitivity or EHS, a syndrome known under various names since the 1930’s when it was first described in a German medical journal as “radio wave sickness.” Richard had many of the hallmark symptoms including headache, fatigue, dizziness, sleep difficulties, tinnitus and memory/concentration difficulties.
The couple immediately installed a protective system in their home to deal with the cordless phone signal from neighbors and surrounding cell towers. Mirin gave up his cell phone and they began using a wired connection for their laptop.
After three years of feeling terrible, Richard’s symptoms disappeared within a few weeks – except when she left the apartment and was exposed again to “non-ionizing” (non-heating) microwave radiation.
Given their theatrical background, they soon decided that this was an experience that needed to be shared, particularly with families. The American Academy of Pediatrics called on the Federal Communication Commission in 2013 to revise their exposure standards, writing “Children are not little adults and are disproportionately impacted by all environmental exposures, including cell phone radiation. Current FCC standards do not account for the unique vulnerability and use patterns specific to pregnant women and children.”
In 2015, Mirin and Richard’s Piti Theatre Company premiered Innocenzo, their all ages musical tale about a clown struggling to survive in the 21st century, touring around Western Massachusetts and in Switzerland with a French version.
On Saturday, at the 6th Annual Framingham Earth Day Festival, the Piti Theatre Company will perform Innocenzo at noon on the Framingham Centre Common.
Innocenzo blends live music, humor and magic to tell the tale of a clown struggling to survive in the 21st century.
The free performance is for all ages and was made possible due the theatre’s friendship with Framingham resident Chuck Matzker, who has advocated for reducing children’s exposure in local schools.
Matzker and others working on this issue, including Ashland’s Cece Doucette, who pioneered the first “mobile device best practices” policy in the country for the Ashland Public School system, who will be available at a booth throughout the day to answer questions.
The free performance starts at noon and is funded in part by the Framingham Cultural Council.
Photo courtesy of the Piti Theatre Company