Dementia Friendly Performances
In December 2014 we staged the UK’s first dementia-friendly performance of a mainstream theatre production, White Christmas. A second successful dementia friendly performance – a matinee of our Spring 2015 production Beryl – followed. A 2016 matinee of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang attracted over 500 people, cementing dementia friendly performances as a regular element of West Yorkshire Playhouse programming. We now support other theatres to adopt this model, taking dementia friendly performances to a much wider audience, and influencing accessible performances across the theatre sector. We anticipate great interest in our 2017 dementia friendly performance of the UK première of Strictly Ballroom The Musical.
Working with people living with dementia and the people who support them, we explore and address the potential barriers that might stop someone with dementia coming to see a show. We provide clear signage and visual markers, quiet spaces and additional trained staff and volunteers to support customers in our front of house space. We also adapt sound and lighting cues and stage action within the show itself where necessary. We offer pre-show creative sessions to prepare people for the show, either at the Playhouse or in the community.
West Yorkshire Playhouse is proud to have been recognised with two major national awards for this pioneering work: Best Dementia Friendly Project 2015 and Outstanding Innovation in Dementia Care 2015.
Watch our film on dementia-friendly performances
Resources available to download
Listen to Radio 4’s Front Row report on dementia-friendly performances here (from 18 minutes) – click here