Radio Drama For People With Dementia
In 2016, we took the UK International Radio Drama Festival into care homes in Herne Bay.
We found that residents with dementia enjoyed the experience just as much as others. They talked about listening to plays on the wireless with their families when they were children. They very much enjoyed a play set during the second world war, remembering the songs and talking about the places mentioned in the drama.
Listening to this audience talking, we realised that radio drama is a particularly appropriate art form for them. It can be enjoyed anywhere at any time; there is no need to travel or to experience unfamiliar locations; it can be shared or - equally importantly - not shared. It can transport the listener to any period and any geographical location. We also realised that we could greatly enhance this audience's enjoyment with a few simple adjustments.
We then started working on developing a piece for this audience, working in collaboration with the audience to ensure that it reflects their needs and interests and provides them with an opportunity to access brilliant art.
All of These Things
a radio drama for people with dementia and those listening with them
“All of These Things”, written by Stella Feehily, was commissioned by International Arts Partnership for the 2018 International Radio Drama Festival with the specific needs of an audience of people with early stage dementia in mind.
The concept came out of our experience taking the radio drama festival to audiences in care homes in Herne Bay.
We discovered there an enthusiasm for radio drama and an enjoyment of it – but subject to some specific requirements.
We subsequently undertook research with the residents of Forrester Court care home in West London who helped us understand the soundscapes which resonated with them.
The play is made up of a series of connected episodes. Each can be enjoyed on its own and offers a complete story – but they link together to make a longer drama. Each episode involves no more than three distinct characters, and each episode is set in a clearly defined and familiar environment. The episodes are fully supported by a soundscape which reinforces the dialogue to help the listener follow the story. Music is an important element throughout. The play is structured so that the listener can pause or stop after each episode. There is space within episodes for additional pauses or to stop and return to the beginning. The characters’ experiences and environments are likely to be familiar and the listener may enjoy joining in with them.
We would welcome hearing from audiences about their response to this play.