A new play challenging perceptions of people living with dementia will tour Wales in May and June this year.
Re-Live, a Welsh-based theatre company whose ethos it is to create theatre and ‘life story work’ with people at the margins of society, will perform a bilingual production Belonging in nine towns and cities across the country, opening in Chapter Cardiff on May 2.
Influenced by writer Karin Diamond’s Winston Churchill travel fellowship to Japan where she experienced first hand their creative and reciprocal philosophy of care for people living with dementia, Belonging promises to be an inspiring and moving look at a subject rarely covered by the arts in Wales.
On her return to Wales Karin has conducted a year-long programme of research with people living with dementia, their families and professional carers and with support from Arts Council Wales has written this play inspired by the voices of people living with dementia in Wales today.
“When I was in Japan a few years ago I was blown away with how they used creativity in dementia care, as a matter of course, with amazing outcomes.” said Diamond. “I worked with Dr Uchide, managing director of 10 care homes, founder of the first ‘Dementia Friends’ scheme in the world and artistic director of a theatre company that tours Japan with a play about dementia. What inspired me the most was how they use the power of theatre to raise awareness of dementia; engaging care workers and home care workers, clinicians, social workers, young people, family members and theatre-goers – it lifted the lid on dementia and opened many eyes.”
Diamond continues; “People living with dementia need to feel like they still belong to their communities, their homes, their families and ultimately, themselves. We hope Belonging goes some way in removing the stigma of dementia, builds confidence in our communities and awareness that a person with dementia can lead a life of purpose and meaning if we can respond with love and understanding. We hope the people of Wales come and see Belonging to gain insight into dementia through the magic of theatre.”
This production aims to bring these positive messages to Wales, claiming love and laughter don’t have to stop because of dementia. Karin and her theatre company will take the play and their message throughout Wales performing to theatre audiences and working with the health and social care sector to offer Belonging as experiential dementia training through high quality theatre.
The play will be directed by Peter Doran who has enjoyed huge success in the last year with Grav, a one-man show about the life of Ray Gravell. That production won the Audience Award for Best Play at this year’s Wales Theatre Awards and this, his latest project, promises to have a similarly powerful impact on audiences.
Arts, health and social care professionals who have already experienced rehearsed readings of the work are encouraged by this new drama and how it is addressing one of the biggest issues of our time. The response demonstrated how urgent and important this piece of work is in contemporary Wales.
Dee Scott, Reablement Team Manager for Powys County Council. said, “This needs to be shown to families and health care professionals. Fantastic theatre.” Mark Jones, Dementia Care Advisor for the Younger Onset Dementia Service in Cardiff aadded; “Belonging takes us inside the every day experiences of people living with dementia. It enlightens, challenges and entertains all at the same time. Audiences should prepare for some serious myth busting!”
The production will be performed bilingually, taking in theatres across Wales including Chapter Cardiff (2 – 7 May), Taliesin Swansea (12 & 13 May), Lyric Theatre Carmarthen (17 May), Torch Theatre Milford Haven (19 & 20 May), Neuadd Dwyfor Pwllheli (24 May), Pontio Bangor (26 & 27 May), Neuadd Ucheldre Holyhead (31 May), Galeri Caernarfon (2 June) and Theatre Brycheiniog Brecon (9 June). Tickets are available now by calling the individual venues.
CARDIFF – CHAPTER / chapter.org / 029 2030 4400
May 2nd – 7.30pm
May 3rd to 7th – 2pm & 7.30pm
SWANSEA – TALIESIN / taliesinartscentre.co.uk / 01792 602060
May 12th & 13th – 10am & 7.30pm
CARMARTHEN – LYRIC THEATRE / theatrausirgar.co.uk / 0845 226 3510
May 17th – 2.30pm & 7.30pm
MILFORD HAVEN – TORCH THEATRE / torchtheatre.co.uk / 01646 695267
May 19th & 20th – 2.30pm & 7.30pm
PWLLHELI – NEUADD DWYFOR / gwynedd.gov.uk/neuadd-dwyfor / 01758 704088
May 24th – 2.30pm & 7.30pm
BANGOR – PONTIO / pontio.co.uk / 01248 382828
May 26th – 2.30pm & 7.30pm / May 27th – 2.30pm
HOLYHEAD – NEUADD UCHELDRE / ucheldre.org / 01407 763361
May 31st – 2.30pm & 7.30pm
CAERNARFON – GALERI / galericaernarfon.com / 01286 685250
June 2nd – 2.30pm & 7.30pm
BRECON – THEATR BRYCHEINIOG / brycheiniog.co.uk / 01874 611622
June 8th – 2pm & 7.30pm