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Older People’s Commissioner for Wales praises Glyndŵr University students

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29 May 2013

Final year theatre, television and performance students at Glyndŵr University have been praised for the efforts in raising awareness of dementia through their own theatre production.

Working in partnership with Alzheimer’s Society in Wrexham, the group held performances of 'Open Voices' at the Catrin Finch Centre last week (22 – 24 May) as part of Dementia Awareness Week™ (19 – 25 May 2013).

The performance on Thursday evening (23 May) was attended by Sarah Rochira, Older People's Commissioner for Wales.

She said: "The show was outstanding and did an excellent job of highlighting everything that needs to be brought to people’s attention about dementia. We need to see more innovative approaches like this, which engage an audience in such a unique way.

"Giving a voice back to people living with dementia and those who care for them is just so important and the performance did this very well. I hope that more audiences across Wales have the opportunity to be both challenged and entertained by this excellent production and would recommend it to anyone."

Students involved with the project met with, and interviewed, a number of people currently living with dementia in Wrexham and based the production around their stories and accounts. 

Jacky Baldini, Locality Manager for Alzheimer’s Society said: "We are extremely grateful to the Theatre, Television and Performance students at Glyndŵr University for their hard work and commitment. Last week was a great success.

"Hundreds of people have attended performances of ‘Open Voices’, helping us to raise awareness and get people chatting more openly about dementia.

"As the population ages, we all face the risk of one day developing dementia. The more we know about the condition, the more prepared we’ll be to face it."

The production was performed in a style known as verbatim theatre, a form of documentary theatre in which plays are constructed from the precise words spoken by people interviewed about a particular event or topic, in this case dementia.

Elen Mai Nefydd, senior lecturer in theatre and performance at Glyndŵr University said: ‘We immediately knew that we didn’t want the production to be linear and knew that verbatim was the way forward.

"Although we wanted the production to be informative we were also keen to make sure that it didn’t become too dark and that we showed the happier and often more amusing sides of the people that we interviewed.

"I am a firm believer that the theatre should be educating and entertaining at the same time and I believe that Open Voices is a perfect example of this."

Students in the Theatre, Television and Performance department are hoping to go on tour with this production to further promote and raise awareness on the subject of dementia. 

Alzheimer’s Society in Wrexham has a range of services which support people with dementia and their carers. These include Singing for the Brain, a dementia support worker, carers education programmes and Dementia Cafés in Wrexham and Penley. For details contact 01978 364 859 or email wrexham@alzheimers.org.uk.

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