Sharing Joy is a show is specially targeted at people living with dementia and their carers, and was performed for residents of the Coventry-based retirement village, as part of a wider project with the Belgrade Theatre to engage older audiences and raise awareness of dementia.
Martin Shreeve is Chair of the Board of Trustees for the ExtraCare Charitable Trust, a registered charity based in Coventry, which runs Earlsdon Park. He joined residents to watch the performance of Sharing Joy. He said, “It was amazing. We’ve seen in the space of an hour people become totally engaged and alive – it’s what drama ought to be about. We tend to think of older people based on where they are now and forget they had a life that has spanned 70 or more years, and have had amazing experiences. This show has been developed from the personal experience of a carer and they’ve taken that on to engage directly with older people living with dementia and it’s just amazing.”
Sharing Joy has a proven track record for engaging older people and staff, within retirement communities. The show is part performance and part interaction, playfulness and laughter. It uses music, dance, mask, nostalgia, puppetry and general hilarity to encourage participants to celebrate life and all its joys.
Later in the year, Vamos will bring their award-winning show Finding Joy to the B2 auditorium at the Belgrade, which will be open to a wider audience of theatre-goers as well as older people, and those living with dementia.
Finding Joy tells the story of 83 year old Joy; she’s feisty, loves to dance, and is losing her memory. Her grandson Danny is rebellious, bright and always getting into trouble. When Danny decides to look after Joy, they discover a shared playfulness and growing love. But is that enough to face the challenges ahead?
Approaching the subject of dementia with humour and humanity, Finding Joy is about family bonds, facing things together, and looking for the joy wherever it can be found.
Rachael Savage, Artistic Director of Vamos Theatre said of the project, “This is an essential and ambitious project for people living with dementia and their carers, that will not only enrich their lives by encouraging participation, instilling a sense of community and enjoying the Arts, but also aid the carers in their understanding about the importance of non-verbal communication. We’re delighted that the Belgrade, who have an outstanding reputation for their work with people living with dementia, are a project partner with us and we truly hope that collectively we can encourage a step change in the way the Arts and healthcare sectors work together in the future to improve the lives of many.”
Finding Joy runs on the Main Stage from Thurs 16 – Sat 18 November. Tickets are priced at £13 & £15.50 and are available from the Belgrade Box Office on 024 7655 3055 or via the Belgrade Theatre website at www.belgrade.co.uk. Free tickets are available to carers attending the performance with a disabled patron.