Dementia festival: Music, love and the power of the senses
Three unique but totally different theatrical experiences are part of The Spring’s ground-breaking festival More Than a Memory, which aims to address the taboo associated with dementia.
There’s a heart-warming love story, a unique journey for the senses and an immersive theatrical performance for those with the disease and their carers.
The play In Other Words explores the effects of Alzheimer’s disease on a relationship and the transformative power of music. The songs of Frank Sinatra connect the characters to their past and are a constant thread throughout the story.
Music accesses different parts of the brain than language and can be used to communicate, soothe and tap into powerful emotions and memories.
Sophie Fullerlove, director of The Spring, said: “Audiences can expect a moving love story about a couple's relationship with music as they are affected by dementia. It's incredibly well acted but it could be upsetting for some. But there are some moments of laughter too.”
Understanding how dementia affects the senses
In Other Words, on February 13 at 7.30pm, is about dementia rather than for people with the condition.
In the Sensory Theatre, earlier in the day, learn what is happening to sense perception for those with dementia.
Dr Kim Brown originally created the pop-up sensory theatre to give clinicians and carers an idea of the sensory deprivation experienced by someone with dementia.
Tapping into the senses is vital, as research shows that sensory communication can reduce agitation and aggression for those living with the illness.
Dr Brown said dementia was a progressive condition. “People go on a journey. In the early stages they realise something may be changing, so the sensory theatre helps people with early-stage dementia understand what is happening.”
Dr Brown added: “Visitors to the sensory theatre can learn what is happening to sense perception for those with dementia and what they can do to help.”
For people with dementia
The Garden, on February 18, is performed by participatory arts company Spare Tyre. It creates a relaxing but engaging atmosphere where people with dementia and their carers travel through the seasons with the smell of springtime, the touch of summer, the taste of autumn and the feel of winter.
The audience will be able to join in this interactive and non-verbal one-hour show. Tickets are £5 with one accompanying carer free.
The festival forms part of a wider initiative at the Havant arts centre as it aims to become a dementia-friendly venue, with staff undergoing dementia awareness training.
Additionally, The Spring is hosting a monthly dementia-friendly film in its theatre. The Forget-Me-Not series shows vintage films in a relaxed environment for those who might find a usual trip to the cinema more difficult.
- The Sensory Theatre is in the Saltings Room on Wednesday, February 13.
Gain an insight into how sensory changes can impact on someone with dementia. It will provide you with tools to continue to communicate with a loved one as memory and language fragment.
- In Other Words is also on February 13 at 7.30pm.
This moving love story explores the effects of Alzheimer’s disease on a relationship and the transformative power of music. Followed by post-show chat with Dr Kim Brown, a mental health researcher, and Dr Carolyn Popham, chairwoman of the Dementia Friendly Hayling Island Steering Group.
- The Garden is on Monday, February 18 at 11am and 2.30pm.
An immersive, non-verbal theatrical experience which creates an engaging atmosphere focused on the senses for people with dementia and their carers.