Theatre company embarks on memory project with care homes

Theatre company embarks on memory project with care homes

A leading theatre company in Northern Ireland is working with a number of care homes to help residents share memories. C21 has created the Through The Glass initiative to unlock stories from individuals’ pasts.

The aim is to spark conversations in a creative manner at a time when the usual face-to-face meetings are harder to achieve. C21 worked alongside the education departments from local museums to put together reminiscence loan boxes.

Inside each box were items likely to spark memories, ranging from the powdered milk often used during the second world war to shoes commonly worn in the 1970s. The boxes were delivered to care homes and used in workshops run by activity coordinators.

Of the stories that have been shared so far, five have been chosen to be developed into theatrical films. They explore the themes of home, community, school days, work and going out and will be showcased on C21’s YouTube channel.

Writers Gary Wilson and Tom Rowntree-Finlay worked with poet Shelley Tracey to transform the stories into scripts. They have then been acted by local actors Colm McCready, Christina Nelson, Debra Hill, and Eoghan Lamb.

Every Tuesday, a new film will be put up on YouTube, starting on November 24th and continuing for the next five weeks. It is hoped it will provide interesting insight into the lives of those living in care homes and something to share with relatives.

Screenings will also be arranged inside the care homes involved so that residents can see the project they have contributed to. Viewing the other films in the series may also prompt memories or topics of conversation in others.

C21 was awarded Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s National Lottery Fund to help fund Through the Glass – The Reminiscence Project. One of the theatre group’s stated aims is to interact with audiences of all ages and social backgrounds.

Stephen Kelly, of C21, highlighted that the coronavirus pandemic has been challenging for a number of sectors, including the arts and social care sectors. That’s why it was important the theatre company adapted to stay relevant.

He added: “The Through the Glass Project has helped to stimulate conversations where residents have opened up and shared their personal stories. With so many stories to choose from the challenge was deciding on which stories to use.

“It has been a privilege to have these stories shared with us and we hope the films we have produced will help to transport residents back in time creating some poignant memories.”