Wednesday, February 28, 2007

An Uma Benefit this Sunday night!

This Sunday, March 4th, at 7pm

please join us at the Elephant Lab Theatre

for a special benefit performance of

David Nathan Schwartz's medical mystery tour de force,

My Brain Tumor: A Mind Expanding Comedy

LA WEEKLY PICK OF THE WEEK: "His exceptional story of illness and recovery is a stirring testament to our shared humanity, in all its pain and victory..."

Tickets are $75 and may be purchased at


Uma Nithipalan is a vibrant, snarky, funny, loving, 27-year-old woman. Theatre critic Rob Kendt called her "one of LA's essential theatre actors" after she was last seen onstage as Vanya in the Evidence Room's production of "The Cherry Orchard." On January 30th, Uma flew out to New York City to visit her fiancé John, a musician who was in the city for a gig and who had proposed to Uma on Christmas Eve. The next morning, Uma had a series of seizures. Fortunately, she was with John and he was able to get her to St. Vincent's Hospital, where they discovered she had a brain aneurysm, which had burst. By that afternoon, they had coiled the aneurysm, but Uma was in a Stage 5 coma and the doctors told us Uma would either die or remain in a vegetative state the rest of her life.

That was a month ago. Since then, Uma has had a truly miraculous recovery. She has had many ups and downs--including a stroke--but despite what the doctors told us on that first day, her health and neurological condition improve every day. On Day 13, she opened her eyes for the first time; on Day 15, she started focusing her eyes on us and really waking up. Since then, she's been trying to talk (the tracheostomy in her throat prevents her from making any sound, but she is TRYING), she's been trying to move the right side of her body (this is the side of her body that was affected by the aneurysm and has shown only limited movement, but there is SOME movement), she's been smiling, she's been frowning, she's been rolling her eyes at us when she gets annoyed, and she's been laughing at (some of) our jokes. She's also been getting frustrated at her inability to communicate as she becomes more aware of where she is and the journey ahead of her.

Now we need to get to the best rehab facility and we are raising money for an Air Ambulance to transfer her. Unfortunately, Uma doesn't have health insurance, so it's all a bit costly, but the generosity and love that people have shown has been amazing. This morning, John was at Uma's bedside and he started explaining our plans. When he mentioned that the Air Ambulance was going to cost upwards of $20,000, Uma started crying--afraid that would be impossible. But John told her not to worry, that hundreds of amazing people--friends, family, strangers--have already donated thousands of dollars and that we would definitely get her out of the ICU soon. And then Uma smiled and cried again, this time out of joy.

When David Nathan Schwartz--himself a survivor of brain trauma--read about what Uma's been going through, he offered to help, and we couldn't be more grateful. Please join us this Sunday, March 4th, at 7pm, for a ninety-minute benefit performance of David's acclaimed one-man show. It's funny, it's moving, it's in honor of Uma and all who have beaten insurmountable odds. Stay after the show and drink some wine with us!

"In his triumphant one man show David Nathan Schwartz seamlessly guides us through his tour of hell... witty writing and a brilliant performance..."

For more info on "My Brain Tumor," please visit

If you want to help but can't make it to the theater on Sunday night, please visit to find out more about how you can help Uma.

Seating is limited, so please book your tickets now!

Uma Fest at!

What: My Brain Tumor: A Mind Expanding Comedy

When: Sunday March 4th at 7pm

Where: ELEPHANT LAB THEATRE, 1078 North Lillian Way
(At Santa Monica Boulevard, One Block West of Vine)
Los Angeles, California 90038

Why: For Uma!

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