Whether or not you have a personal connection to dementia, the play ‘Still Alice’ is a conversation starter. The actress performing as Alice brings to life the challenges associated with young-onset Alzheimer’s. But it’s not just what happens on stage that has got people talking. A series of ‘relaxed’ showings in local theatres have prompted conversation about dementia-friendly services in local communities.
“The play is relatively short, condensing three years of life into just 90 minutes. But in that time, we see a series of emotional snapshots of a family coming to terms with Alice’s diagnosis.
A person-centred approach
One key focus of the play is how Alice’s family respond to her changing behaviour and common social stigmas.
Speaking at a Q&A session in Plymouth, the cast explained how this is something they were keen to get right. In particular, the play shows the value of prioritising the emotions of the person with dementia in the moment.
This sentiment is also carried into the design of the performances themselves. The cast and crew of Still Alice were supported by people living with dementia throughout the production. This includes the development of ‘relaxed’ performances, designed to be more accessible to everyone affected by dementia.
During these performances, the volume is lowered and lighting is set to a more comfortable level. The theatres also ensure there is a quiet environment outside of the main space. The priority is to enable those living with dementia to maintain an awareness of their environment and avoid disorientation while watching the play.