One dreary morning in early August I was lucky enough to take part in a GranDram workshop. Programmed as pat of the PopUp! Scotland –Great Scottish Make Off week and partnered with C Venues. I headed to C South, nestled in a beautiful church hall on a little residential road just past the Summerhall turning.
The venue is one of those rare Fringe venues that comes with peace and serenity. The main theatre accompanied by an open lawn for outdoor performances and interactive arts. It almost doesn't feel like you’re in the city at all.
GranDram itself is the brain child of theatre practitioner Joseph Travers. Aiming to support and engage with residents of care and support homes and inter-intergenerational schemes, using methods of Drama. Joseph focuses on character development, movement, self-awareness and the sharing of life experiences, to encourage and expand communication structures, histories and narratives.
Throughout the Fringe Joseph teamed up with PopUp! Scotland as part of their Great Scottish Make Off program, to deliver these workshops daily for anyone that wanted to experience the work that GranDram carries out. An hour of sensory exploration and development. Taking inspiration from familiar sounds, songs, smells and stories, this workshop allows the participants to play with their own narratives whilst getting an in-depth look into the main practises for drama-based dementia workshops.
Joseph creates a space in which you feel safe exploring the many avenues of interest. Allowing the participants to play and explore as much or as little as they wish. There are games and scenarios, allowing us to look back on our own lives and those of our loved ones. Throughout the workshop Joseph reveals the power of everyday objects, using something as simple as a bar of soap to conjure up memories within the participants.
The whole workshop is very ‘play’ based. Which is something thats been significant in my own work over the last 12 months. Having created the interactive piece Play Time for The Camden People’s Theatre last October, I know how important play is, not just to children but adults too. As children play they build the structures in their brains that allow them to deal with things. And playing as an adult strengthens these, so it makes sense that engaging people with dementia in pay would only have a positive effect.
This type of workshop is something which I hope we begin to see more of in coming years. With more money and time needing to be spent on quality of life. Joseph is doing some incredible work with GranDram and I’d encourage anyone thats interested to go over to his website and take a look.