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Theatre with the elderly – never too old to make a scene

Researching theatre and acting methods to create and perform theatre with elderly people in care homes and investigating its impact on their wellbeing.

When asked what elderly in care homes miss the most, they point to their autonomy.
By (re)discovering their imagination, obtaining a playful state of mind, and feeling connected to their fellow actors in creating scenes, is it possible to find a new autonomy?

“Anyone can do theatre, even actors. And, theatre can be done everywhere, even in a theatre.”
– Augusto Boal

This start project researches which existing drama and acting methods and exercises would be suitable for elderly people in care homes. The project also monitors how playing and acting impacts the wellbeing of the residents, as well as how feelings of connection towards the caretakers deepen when acting and creating together.
Based on Belgian and foreign publications, case studies, conversations with artists who have experience working with seniors, and literature studies, an inventory of possible theatre exercises will be put together.
These exercises will be tested on different groups of residents in care homes in Antwerp to develop a ready-to-use manual with inspirational theatre methods. This manual can then be used, not just by artists who want to work with elderly people, but also by caretakers in nursery homes.
The aim is to bring a wider spectrum of activities and more art-based experiences into the care homes, and to lead the way for artists and other creative people to regard an elderly home as a creative space.

image: Woman dancing to 'let's dance' in eighties outfit for a movie project in a care home