Library Theatre Company – Storybox Project – Opportunity for PhD Researchers

MICRA, the university’s research network on ageing, has been approached by the Library Theatre Company to facilitate academic input to the Storybox Project, a creative storytelling project for older people with dementia and Alzheimer’s’ disease.  The Storybox Project is currently being set up and this is an opportunity for PhD students in arts/drama to be involved in the evaluation and design of an innovative outreach project with one of the North West’s leading theatre companies.

A number of members of Professor John Keady’s Dementia and Ageing Research Team (DART) in the school of nursing are already onboard and we would also like to facilitate input from the arts/drama.  Different degrees of involvement in the project are possible and we would like to encourage interested students to attend a presentation by Lowri Evans, the project co-ordinator, at a DART meeting on 5 April from 12 – 1 pm and a follow on meeting to discuss evaluating the project from 1 – 2 pm, both in room 2.321 Jean McFarlane Building.  Even if you can only commit to attending this first meeting, the Library Theatre would very much value your input.  If you would like to attend on 5 April please email Jo Garsden, MICRA Project Co-ordinator ; Lowri Evans would be happy to provide further information on the project should this be helpful.

The Storybox Project

Storybox Project is a creative storytelling project for older people with dementia and Alzheimer’s, run by Library Theatre and funded by Paul Hamlyn Foundation for the next three years. It is our aim to work with older people all over Manchester in a variety of settings, from all backgrounds with a range of needs.

The workshops previously have involved taking in a box full of sensory and thematic props, costume and music to stimulate games, improvisations and worlds of make believe. Themes we have looked at include Blackpool, Hollywood, The Pub, Cruise Ships. Participation takes many forms- as an active audience member- commenting or responding on the action, joining in with simple mental or physical games and exercises, and getting up and having a go playing out scenes. The sessions have been fun and full of energy, having a positive impact on the participants well being in the session, and after. Care workers often describe that being together in the Storybox sessions builds a sense of community that remains even after the workshops have finished. Dementia can be very isolating and frustrating for the sufferer and we aim to encourage interaction and brighten someone’s day.

Future sessions could bring in different elements or practices- such as an element on music or dance. I am in the early stages of planning the project, and would like to focus the first year on periods of workshops with residential settings, clinical settings and day centres. I am also interested in delivering the project for prisons, early onset dementia and individuals who do not belong to a community group.

We are currently working on an activities guide for carers, building a website, investigating how to evidence the impact this project has on the participants and planning training days for artist facilitators and carers later in the year.