Stripping dementia of its fear as show goes on Sussex tour

Amy Enticknap (Emily) and Gaye Poole (Connie): Stripping Dementia
Amy Enticknap (Emily) and Gaye Poole (Connie): Stripping Dementia

Stripping dementia of its fear is the aim behind a theatre company’s nationwide library tour heading for a string of dates in West Sussex.

Spokeswoman Amy Enticknap, actor and producer with Human Story Theatre, said: “Human Story Theatre company are back performing their critically-acclaimed, bitter-sweet play about a mother facing dementia with the help of her daughter.

“Uniquely, each intimate performance of Connie’s Colander will be followed by a Q&A with a medical or care expert. The national tour of 36 libraries will take pay-what-you-can pop-up theatre and critical support to people who might otherwise suffer in isolation.”

Connie’s Colander, written by Human Story Theatre’s Gaye Poole, is in libraries and community spaces this May and June, with 12 performances during Dementia Action Week (May 20-26). Having secured Arts Council funding, the company have doubled their tour dates from last year.

Connie is a retired domestic science teacher. Emily, her daughter, is enjoying hosting her first TV cookery show Connie’s Colander, bringing her mother’s recipes on screen and up to date. The hour-long play traces the evolving relationship throughout their lives and the impact of Connie’s Alzheimer’s. Can their relationship and the TV show survive? After the play, the actors facilitate a 20-minute Q&A with guest specialists, offering information and stories of living well with dementia and encourage the audience to share their own experiences.

Marion Lynch, dementia expert and deputy medical director for NHS England South, said: “Connie gives us permission to laugh and cry about our own situation, the roles lost and responsibilities gained when living with dementia and notice that we are not alone. More of this would lead to a different view on what it is to grow old and care for those who need our help.”

Sue Williamson, libraries director at Arts Council England, added: “An awful lot of people who are interested or touched by these issues don’t feel safe in a theatre, but they do feel comfortable in their local library.’’

850,000 people have dementia in the UK,

Connie’s Colander dates and venues: May 20 – Haywards Heath Library, 3pm; May 21 – Crawley Library, 3pm; May 22 – Littlehampton Library, 7.30pm; May 23 – Petworth Library, 7.30pm; May 24 – Bognor Library, 2pm; and May 24 – Witterings Library, 7.30pm.

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