Special Leeds theatre show for people with dementia

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A first special theatre performance for people with dementia will be staged at West Yorkshire Playhouse later this year.

The matinee of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas on December 16 will see adaptations being made to the show to ensure people with the illness can enjoy it as much as possible.

They include the opportunity for movement and audience responses, more space in the auditorium and training for theatre staff and actors.

The first Dementia Friendly show comes after the success of the theatre’s Relaxed Performances for people with learning disabilities, which it pioneered in 2009 and have since been adopted by theatres across the UK.

The playhouse’s artistic director James Brining said: “I’m delighted that we will stage our first Dementia Friendly performance using the expertise we’ve gathered from many years of working with older people and people living with dementia, so that they and their companions can experience the Playhouse this Christmas in a relaxed and welcoming environment.”

For more than 20 years the playhouse has supported older people through its community arts programme Heydeys, including activities for people with dementia.

Community Development Officer Nicky Taylor, who leads the work and is a member of Leeds Dementia Action Alliance steering group, said: “Living with dementia can present additional challenges in everyday activities, but with a little extra support it is possible for people to enjoy many of the activities they have previously enjoyed, and of course to try new things too.

“As a theatre we can support people to enjoy a show by making some changes to the physical environment but also by creating an atmosphere of welcome to embrace people’s changing needs. We don’t want families who are experiencing dementia to miss out on a visit to the theatre due to worry or stress.”

To register interest in the performance, contact nicky.taylor@wyp.org.uk or 0113 213 7296

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