I’m surrounded by the idea of memory at the moment… The show we’re touring soon is all about the memories of Nottingham people, who gave us their stories about inspiring women, and Saving Declan Clare, which workshops in early September, is about memories of first love. That ecstatic time in your formative years, when you realise there is someone else on the planet who actually really likes you, and you like them. Suddenly they become fascinating… and you never forget the charge of electricity you feel when they walk in to a room.
I’ve just listened to a brilliant Radio 4 programme about learning to communicate with people with dementia by using “props”: objects from the past that trigger memory for them. There’s an amazing settlement in Sweden where they use whole theatrical sets to allow people who feel more comfortable in their pasts, to relax and go back to better times. It might sound a bit depressing, but it was fabulous. People were chatting and singing to music they loved in their twenties. They were really talking, even though speech is often one of the first things to go with dementia.
It reminded me of the residents of the nursing home we did Patchwork Lives in the other day, and how they sang to songs they’d never heard before, and commented on things the characters were saying. That, and the fact that a lot of our props are recognisable and familiar, or colourful like the quilt, seemed to make them open up and respond… Theatre can do amazing things some times.