Creative arts group taking theatre to care homes where positive after-effects 'last for days'

PUBLISHED: 15:40 17 May 2017 | UPDATED: 15:40 17 May 2017

Care home residents at the Theatre In The Hut.

Care home residents at the Theatre In The Hut.

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A creative arts group is visiting 'a forgotten part of the community' and using theatre to try to stop them becoming isolated.

That Creative Thingy Wotsit is a community interest company which has started visiting care homes in Weston-super-Mare to deliver puppet shows, and music and theatre performances.

It was launched a few years ago and started its work by providing theatre opportunities for people with mental health conditions. It is now going into some of Weston’s care homes and is delivering activities for people living with dementia.

Stephen Watters, director of the group, said: “The main objective is to start to highlight the community in residential care, which is a forgotten part of the community.

“They are socially excluded, and often suffer from loneliness, and anxiety and depression.

“A lot of them don’t get outside either. But there are things being done to help and support them.”

That Thingy Creative Wotsit teamed up with the theatre group the Off Street Players last week to take people with dementia to the Theatre In The Hut, just one of its ways to help those who are isolated.

Mr Watters, who works in theatres in Weston and Bristol, said the key to the group’s performances is that people in the homes can get involved in the shows.

He said: “Engaging with them is critical. We don’t just perform at them.

“It is immersive and inclusive.

“It is beneficial for them, and the after-effects last for days afterwards.”

Mr Watters first realised how performance could help people with dementia when he started volunteering in a care home.

He is now using his contacts in the theatre world to extend the project, and says he hopes for ‘great things’ from it.

Nicky Tweedle, activities co-ordinator at Notaro Care Homes, which went to the Theatre In The Hut, said: “They were welcomed without judgement, and thoroughly enjoyed an excellent performance of Death On Location by the Off Street Players.

“The evening had a really positive and beneficial effect on our residents and they are looking forward to other creative activities as part of this project.”

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