Older people living with dementia script play bringing Gateshead’s famous sisters back to the theatre they founded.
A £10,000 community project has seen older people and school pupils working together to create a play celebrating the lives of the Dodds Sisters.
This July residents at St Mark’s have their reflections and storytelling come to life when Year 5 pupils from Carr Hill Primary School performed their script at The Little Theatre.
The three-act play showcases the year-long heritage project between residents and schoolchildren supported by ourselves, Gateshead Libraries and the theatre.
It’s a fitting stage for the production, retelling the lives of Gateshead’s inspirational siblings who founded the theatre back in 1943 and were pivotal in Gatehead’s suffragette movement.
Equal Arts’ Poppy Crawshaw, who first started working with the group as a volunteer, said: “It’s been fantastic to research and explore the lives of the Dodds Sisters who made such an impact here on our doorsteps. The play is testament to the amazing support we’ve had from the staff at St Mark’s and Carr Hill and of course residents and students who have loved sharing their knowledge and ideas.
“So often activities for older people living with dementia can rely on reminiscence. We’ve seen during this project the benefits of exploring your imagination, living in the moment and creating something, no matter what age you are.”
Building on local history resources and using storytelling, music and drama techniques, residents developed characters and created the script during weekly sessions with Equal Arts and pupils and staff from Carr Hill Primary.
As well as writing the script and songs for the show, residents have narrated parts and formed a choir with music being played during the production.
Donna Brooks, activities coordinator at St Mark’s, owned by Akari Care, in Gateshead, said: “The project has just been amazing, residents have loved it and the growing relationship with children has been fantastic to see. We’ve loved having the school here each week and learning together.”
The set for Friday’s show has been created by participants of Equal Arts’ Carers Cultural Adventures group who’ve worked with sculpture Michael Davies at the charity’s base in Gateshead.
Jackie Robinson, a teaching assistant at Carr Hill, added: “One of the main benefits of this successful project has been the visible strengthening of relationships between the children and residents of St Mark’s. All those involved have commented how much they enjoyed talking to each other and the residents sharing their life experiences and memories with the children.”
The Dodds Sister: A Play of Three Acts and the project were made possible by volunteer group the Friends of St Mark’s who successfully applied for funding of £10,000 from Heritage Lottery Fund.
To find out more about volunteering with Equal Arts contact us here.