Early exploration with participants in either making puppets or interacting with them, offered great potential in bringing non-verbal experiences to residents. Theresa Keogh, Associate Director at New Perspectives theatre company, has been co-ordinating the Recipe of Life programme for Imagine and was involved in early writing workshops facilitated by Matthew Pegg, Nenagh Watson and Sean Myatt.
After the script had been written, a creative team was brought together by Theresa that included Alison Duddle, theatre designer who has worked for renowned touring company, Horse + Bamboo; Nottingham based Matt Marks composer and musical dramatist, performers Melvyn Rawlinson, Liz Eaves and Laura Ryder and Stage Manager Nick Morris. A series of intensive rehearsals were held during August and Alison Duddle made and designed a series of clever props that would be compact and creative for the delivery of shows in care settings.
The show had integrated interactive, multi-sensory and non-verbal elements that were particularly enjoyed by residents in the initial workshops and were a good indicator as to how the show might be received. This method was chosen to engage an audience with a wide range of needs and older people living with advanced dementia. The theatre piece was produced using co-production with residents in number of different care homes; this has been complex and multi-layered.
The entire production was a lengthy process from the outset. From initial story gathering, writing and rehearsals, it took around a year to produce. The actors were however very sensitive to people’s needs during the show and took time at the end to ensure that they talked with audience members and their families and showed people the puppets to touch and interact with.
The show also featured as part of the Age of Creativity Festival in October 2017 within the Spiegel Tent in Nottingham’s Market Square.
Comments from the show:
It was a lovely piece, really well thought out and had a bit of everything, sadness, joy and lots of memories for our residents.
The music (live and pre-recorded) plus the inventive staging and use of props added visual impact to the action and the audience’s physical interaction with the puppet of young Mrs Brewster (when one of the actors came off the stage) added another sense to deploy (I never shook a puppet’s hand before!). So, sight, sound, touch, and emotions all came together in this piece.