Puppeteers help to spread understanding of dementia

April 27, 2016

Puppeteers will be able to bring their art to people with dementia and loved ones who care for them, thanks to a grant from the Care UK wellbeing foundation.

Performing Dementia is a ground-breaking project that showcases two puppetry plays, exploring the issues surrounding dementia and people’s personal experience of the condition. The productions aim to raise awareness of dementia through engaging performances and puppetry workshops.

The grant will be used to extend the plays’ reach, with workshops focusing on Japanese Bunraku puppetry and involving people of all generations both making and learning to use the puppets. Workshops will also be offered to carers for those living with dementia, to support them and encourage them to express themselves in a new medium.

The project, performed at the Omnibus Theatre in London, is run by Around the Glove creative director Almudena Adalia and Vertebra Theatre Company artistic directors Eirini Dermitzaki and Mayra Stergiou. The projects have been at arts festivals in this country and the workshops have been facilitated in the USA and in Greece, working with life stories, myths and legends.

Almudena said: “We invite carers of people with dementia to participate in puppetry and dramatherapy workshops to explore stories, feelings, engage with their imagination and create a container for their experience of caring for someone who is living with dementia.

“Through these workshops, participants will be given the time and space to create their own idea of caring for their own selves and to find ways to release stress from everyday life responsibilities. They might also explore different ways of engaging with people with dementia through puppetry and theatre in a safe and playful environment. The puppets give a wonderful opportunity for intergenerational work, which is a wonderful way to build and strengthen bonds as well as understanding.”

The Care UK wellbeing foundation supports grass roots charities which promote wellbeing through the arts. It has given a £548 grant to the club, which will pay for materials for the workshops.

Pauline Houchin, head of care and clinical services for Care UK’s Residential Care Services, said: “Puppetry can be a powerful artistic medium and I’m delighted that we can support this project. Their interest in dementia, and their desire to give people a chance to explore the issues surrounding caring and being cared for, will be fascinating. Dementia affects around 850,000 people in the UK and sharing experiences is vital for those involved in caring for someone whose perception of life has changed so noticeably.”