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The Playhouse provides dementia friendly performance guide

West Yorkshire Playhouse shares production methods for audiences with dementia.

West Yorkshire Playhouse

A guide instructing theatres on how to stage performances for people living with dementia is being published by West Yorkshire Playhouse for Dementia Awareness Week.

West Yorkshire Playhouse’s Guide To Dementia Friendly Performances provides best practice advice based on its award-winning performance model, in which the theatre-going experience is specifically tailored to meet the needs of people living with dementia. Having pioneered these accessible performances, staging the UK’s first dementia friendly performance in 2014, the Playhouse’s innovative approach has been recognised with national awards from the Alzheimer’s Society and National Dementia Care Awards. Funded by The Baring Foundation, the guide will  be available to download from its website this month.

West Yorkshire Playhouse Artistic Director, James Brining, said: “Since adapting our first dementia friendly performance we’ve received incredible feedback from people living with dementia and support from care organisations. This response reflects the huge impact that making performances accessible to people who face barriers to attending the theatre following a diagnosis of dementia has on health and well-being. Having staged a number of successful dementia friendly performances the guide draws on our experience, consultations with people living with dementia and their supporters, and long-running work with older people. We’re incredibly proud to be publishing these findings and sharing best practice advice to encourage venues to adopt this model on a national scale and open up our theatres to people living with dementia.”

Highlighting the impact of these performances, Wendy Mitchell, a blogger living positively with dementia, added: “I can no longer follow storylines and many would feel it was pointless to attend a performance. After attending Chitty Chitty Bang Bang my overwhelming emotion was one of happiness. I enjoyed the laughter, singing of familiar songs, but most of all I enjoyed being part of the experience. I encourage all theatres to follow West Yorkshire Playhouse’s lead and allow people with dementia to continue to experience that wonderful feeling that being part of an audience can bring.”

The Playhouse will be presenting dementia friendly performances of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at Edinburgh Festival Theatre on 14th October 2016 and the UK premiere staging of Strictly Ballroom at West Yorkshire Playhouse on 17th January 2017.

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