We have just successfully completed our Spring Tour 2018! Thanks to a kind supporter, we could fine-tune and rehearse our latest production, ‘The Audition’, a jukebox opera on your doorstep, in a wonderful location in North London.
Residents and staff were intrigued and clearly enjoyed the energy and song we brought, such as the lady who sat just outside the window 2 days running, every time I walked past she commented with wonder about the singing. At our dress rehearsal, amongst the small audience were 2 guests with a span of 90 years between them – we got the thumbs up from both.
We then trialled The Audition through a myriad of settings across Greater London and Essex, all connected somehow to the world of care. A total of 9 performances, whether in day centres or living schemes or other facilities for older people. Our audiences consisted of a colourful mix of residents, care staff and often corporate folk and company directors too, a wide array of visitors from both the local community (including the odd mayor and canvassing politicians) and from further afield (for example, representatives of the Australian study group for elderly care, SAGE), drawn together by those who recognise the immense value of such engagement and are working tirelessly behind the scenes to support us.
Our workshop at the National Care Forum Conference, AGEING IN COMMON: an international perspective, was headed: Taking activities to the next level – brace yourself for an intimate, light-hearted performance of some of the best bits of opera specially written for care environments.
Yes, we put on The Audition, and livened up things no end. The purpose being for the delegates to “directly experience the power of live music and voice and the effects it has on you beyond the level of the ‘thinking mind’. We already know there is a kind of magic where music can be instrumental in deepening emotional connections between care home residents, staff and relatives, and recent research demonstrates psychological and physiological benefits too. The workshop is about understanding this kind of interconnection of the arts with care at a soul level, considering its implications and encouraging you to think how you can bring quality arts into your care settings.”
A big thank you to Vic Rayner, executive director of National Care Forum for this opportunity and some amazing introductions, and her wonderful team for all their assistance, and to fabulous teamwork on the day:
- our professional opera singers and our assistant director, Keltie Forsyth, for coping with an unusual performance setting,
- Sylvie Silver for chairing the session – Sylvie is executive director of NAPA Activities, meaningful activity for older people, so we could not have had a more appropriate chair
- Rebecca Seymour for leading the evaluation – Rebecca wears two hats: Coordinator of Elevate ( Elevate: creating a healing environment within an acute district hospital) and Project Development Worker of Celebrating Age Wiltshire.
- Annie Stevenson of Integration in Care, for her endless support in connecting us with the care world, and
- S-J for capturing as much as she could on film as we build up a rich archive.
Together we achieved our purpose!
Throughout the tour, we asked the respective audiences two questions before each performance, and the same two questions afterwards, viz:
How do you feel now?
What do you think of opera?
And every time, the shifts from negative to positive perceptions on both accounts, post performance, have been extraordinary. This is the tip of the iceberg.
Thank you to the healthpitch team for a fabulous tour!
A big thank you to Awards for All and CIVA for assisting Davina’s Fund with the costs of our Spring Tour 2018.