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Dementia Friendly Theatre Day at The Met - Wednesday 3rd October 2018

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The Met, Abertillery will be opening its doors to people living with dementia and their families and carers next month for a day of activities and workshops, including a Dementia Friendly performance of This Incredible Life by Alan Harris, presented by Canoe Theatre in partnership with Theatrau Sir Gar.

The Dementia Friendly Theatre Day, developed in partnership the Alzheimer’s Society, will begin on Wednesday 3rd October at 10.30am with information stations open where members of the public can find out about activities and groups that support living well with dementia. The day also includes an opportunity to take part in Dementia Friends training, a nationwide initiative where participants can learn more about dementia and the small ways they can help. People living with dementia and their families and carers can also take part in a free creative workshop for family, friends and carers wishing to better manage Dementia.

The focus of the day will be a Dementia Friendly performance of This Incredible Life by Alan Harris which has been created to enable a relaxed audience experience. During the performance, the theatre will be well lit with comfortable sound levels, there will be plenty of space between seats and audience members can leave the theatre and re-enter as and when they need to. Refreshments will be served and there will be an opportunity to meet the cast. The play will also include local references from Abertillery in the 60s and 70s to spark memories and connections.
Canoe Theatre are working with local volunteers who will support visitors throughout the day by offering directions and assistance. Volunteers will join venue staff in a Dementia Friends sessions in the run up to the day to ensure that they understand what is needed to support people living with dementia.

This Incredible Life tells the story of retired journalist Mab and her nephew Robert. As they spend time together their family history unfolds with funny and moving consequences. Alan Harris’ latest comedy will sweep audiences off their feet with live music, film and a story that will lift the spirits and warm the heart, MGM style.

Mab and Robert will be played by Sharon Morgan (Hinterland, Torchwood, Under Milk Wood) and Christopher Elson (Da Vinci’s Demons, High Hopes, Torchwood), and will be joined on stage by a supporting cast of seven character parts who are being filmed on location in Wales. Local businesses from a chip shop to a dental surgery have opened their doors for filming to help bring the play to life. Actor Sharon Morgan is developing a bilingual text and the company have also been calling on local experts to suggest places that they remember from the 60s and 70s as locations will change as the play tours Wales. The film work will be created by Jorge Lizalde and the play will also feature a new score, written for the piece by composer Richard Barnard.

Director Julia Thomas explains where the idea for the play came from; “When I was younger I was forever asking my granny to tell me stories about her life and we would often get lost in afternoons of watching beautiful films full of love and hope with amazing dance routines. I wanted to see if we could create this feeling on stage. It is both epic and intimate, funny and touching. It is a story that is suitable for all. I feel that we have a responsibility to make sure that our theatres offer something for everyone and I am excited to be sharing this play with eight inspiring Welsh venues committed to the same cause.”

Canoe Theatre collaborated with Ffwrnes to present the first full production of This Incredible Life in 2016, including a highly successful day of activities that helped to establish Ffwrnes as a Dementia Friendly venue. They have come together to create the touring version of the play employing a dedicated co-ordinator in each area to plan a day of activity, refreshments and socialising. There will be over 150 young volunteers recruited across Wales to support the Dementia Friendly Theatre Days.

Marcia Vale from the Alzheimer’s Society stated that “The Dementia Friendly Performance was the first activity in the region that stepped out of the stereotypical dementia support activity. It was a wonderful event that has allowed people living with dementia to engage in an activity that is currently unavailable to them in this form.

The play was very thought provoking and enabled the audience to `live in the moment’. The play had a really good connection with the local area which added to the experience.

This connection drew on the long-term memories of the audience and brought the story to life.

The reactions that followed the performance confirmed that it was a huge success. It made the members of the audience feel part of a normal activity and was a warm and welcoming experience.”

Sharon Casey, Theatres Development Manager at Theatrau Sir Gâr, said; “We are proud to be working with Canoe Theatre again following the success of the first production of This Incredible Life. We are pleased to be supporting the play to visit more venues and reach more audiences across Wales.”

Canoe Theatre’s tour of This Incredible Life is made possible by the support of the Arts Council of Wales.
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