Drama fun sparks memories for people living with dementia

17th July 2017

Mute masked characters have been entertaining, and triggering memories for, people living in north Norfolk nursing homes.

A special workshop at Sheringham Little Theatre saw 24 nursing home residents, some with dementia, and carers join a professional cast on stage to share activities and action.

The cast took the residents on a journey through life – charting joyous milestones including falling in love, getting married, and having children – using mime, masks, music, puppetry, dance, nostalgia,

There was a visit from a wartime American GI, Elvis, a nasty hospital matron, a “live birth”, and music from the 1940s and 50s.

Vamos Theatre specialises in masked drama and their Sharing Joy show, using audience participation, is targeted at those living with dementia and their carers.

Residents of the Sun Court and St Nicholas homes in Sheringham took part in the event.

Sun Court owner Tim Leadbeater said: “It was an extraordinary day – with residents all getting something out of it, regardless of their abilities, due to the sensitivity of the cast responding to people’s individual feelings and emotions.

“And for we carers, it gave us new ideas on how we might be more adventurous in stimulating our residents, having seen how they responded to this.”

Theatre director Debbie Thompson, who joined in the action, added: “It was one of the most touching moments I have had at the Little Theatre.

“All the residents arrived in wheelchairs, but by the end a couple were dancing along with the action. It was amazing.”

The Sharing Joy workshop came ahead of a Vamos’s return in the autumn with their Finding Joy show, which is also aimed at those living with dementia and their carers.

The wordless drama, laced with humour, poignancy and warmth, features 83-year-old Joy who is funny, loves to dance but is losing her memory. It looks at her relationship with rebellious grandson Danny, as the pair discover they have lots in common.

Dementia Drama