Community Correspondent: Margaret Bell attends the Dementia Friendly performance of Anniversary

Image courtesy of West Yorkshire Playhouse

Review by Margaret Bell of the Dementia Friendly performance

The dementia friendly matinee performance of Anniversary at the Playhouse on Saturday 15 September was well attended. 

It was staffed by volunteer helpers who were welcoming and on hand to assist anyone in need.

Prior to the performance there was a pre-performance singing session in an adjacent room for those attending the show. 

The first song 'You are my sunshine' was known, then a new song 'Seasons of Love' was taught. 

This song was sung by the cast of Anniversary towards the end of the show so those people who had attended the pre-performance were able to join in -- and we did!

Anniversary is a piece of contemporary theatre. 

The cast comprises six professional actors and six from Heydays. Some have many years experience, others have taken to performing in their 60's and 70's. 

The Anniversary theme moves effortlessly between dance, mime, music and personal short stories. Throughout a pianist plays background music at various tempos. 

This is interspersed with actors coming onto stage and marking out their significant life moments to the audience with their anniversaries, e.g. 10th September 1994,  6th January 1962, etc.  

These are their anchors in time. White balloons at varying heights are 'anchored' around the stage.  Very eye-catching.

Later in the performance hundreds of white balloons came down from the ceiling causing gasps from the audience and being gathered in a white net towards the show's end.  

Anniversary is saying that we mark our significant moments in time with anniversaries and as we are marking them we are passing through time --  our anchors in time.  

'Time is not for living in the past or the future but living fully in the present.'

Memories (short stories) are shared by actors with the audience. They are amusing, serious, sad, and thought provoking. All reminded the story teller of an anniversary. Two stories stood out for the writer.

One older actor had left Kingston, Jamaica as a 13-year-old boy, sailing from Kingston up to Canada then across the Atlantic to England to join his mother. 

Throughout the telling one could hear the remembrance of his journey in his voice and what a journey that must have been for that boy.

The second story was from an actor who had lost two brothers because of alcohol. The ending was that there had once been 3 brothers and now there was only one.

Much had been considered for this dementia performance. Front of house greeting by volunteers. The Courtyard Theatre is intimate, friendly. 

Volunteer staffing, house environment, seating and a quiet room outside the auditorium if time away from crowds was needed.

'Anniversary' itself is a well thought out production providing a mix of music, dance and personal stories at an easy pace. 

Good entertainment. I enjoyed it!


Nicky Taylor, Community Development Manager at West Yorkshire Playhouse, reflects on making Anniversary here.


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