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Gaywood library tale of family and dementia

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Oxford’s 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 is coming to Gaywood on Tuesday, June 11, and this example of ‘pop-up theatre’ will take ‘pay-what-you-can’, as cost of admission.

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 onscreen and up to date.

The hour-long play traces their relationship throughout their lives, and the impact of Connie’s Alzheimer’s. Can their relationship, and the TV show, survive?

Actors left to right Amy Enticknap (Emily) and Gaye Poole (Connie)
Actors left to right Amy Enticknap (Emily) and Gaye Poole (Connie)

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.

Dr 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, said: “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.’’

According to the Alzheimer’s Society, 850,000 people have dementia in the UK. The number is expected to rise to more than one million by 2025 and two million by 2051. Meanwhile, 225,000 will develop dementia this year, according to the charity.

Run by Gaye Poole and Amy Enticknap, Human Story Theatre focuses on plays with a health and social care issue at heart.

The group added: “Our aim is to be accessible to all: we ‘pop up’ in any designated space with minimal set, giving a shared-light, shared-space experience. We also operate a ‘pay-what-you-can’ policy where possible.

“We believe theatre is for all and that highlighting health and social care issues in our productions is an exciting way to engage, entertain and educate. Human Story Theatre partners with local communities and groups relevant to the issue being explored in each play.”

Gaywood Library is at River Lane, King’s Lynn, PE30 4HD and Connie’s Colander starts at 1.30pm.

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