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Unlocking the past

In Other Words – at the Hope Theatre – draws on writer’s experiences of working with people with dementia

21 February, 2017 — By Julie Tomlin

Matthew Seager: ‘It’s about music, about relationships, love and loss, and you really need to see and feel this to understand its effects and implications’

WHAT effect does music have on people with Alzheimer’s? A play inspired by the writer’s experiences during 10 weeks of music workshops in a dementia care home sets out to explore the issue.

In Other Words, which is being staged at the Hope Theatre from February 28 until March 18, is Matthew Seager’s writing debut, drawing on his experiences working with people with dementia.

“We would sing at the end of each session, and experienced residents who were seemingly unable to communicate, or were almost totally unresponsive, would stand and sing along to a familiar song from their past,” he says.

“It was totally eye-opening to see these people come to life in this way.”

Writing about the subject of dementia for theatre seemed a natural step, adds Matthew. He also plays Arthur, who together with Jane (Celeste Dodwell), tells the story of their 50 years together, moving in and out of the past and present, grappling with the impact of dementia on their shared reality.

“It’s about music, about relationships, love and loss, and you really need to see and feel this to understand its effects and implications,” explains Matthew.

“There is a lot of direct audience address in the show, and in an intimate space like The Hope you really feel with our couple every step of the way, and hopefully as if you’re experiencing this with them.”

Theatre company Off the Middle is also working in partnership with The Alzheimer’s Society and Playlist for Life, who will also take part in post-show discussions.

• For more details call 0333 666 3366.

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