Recently, I witnessed the one-woman performance, Tales from a Trunk: Shakespearience, the brain-child of Marysue Moses, Memory Care Coordinator at St. Therese Southwest. Heavy on audience participation, Marysue involves all the senses in her fast paced, 45-minute show designed to engage memory care residents mentally and physically. Using a trunk filled with simple props, she keeps things lively from role-playing brief Shakespearean scenes to smelling herbs & flowers from the old Bard’s garden. Some memory care residents will actually remember the program the next day, and compliment Marysue on it.
Moses has a theatrical background and figures she’s performed Shakespearience 40 times over the years. Her inspiration came from personal experience with dementia: "My mother was living in a memory care community in Denver and I was notably unimpressed with the activities that were being offered. I wanted her to have something more stimulating, engaging, and respectful of her intelligence as well as her capacity to appreciate art and humor." She has created three other Tales from a Trunk, including one entitled The Fisherman and His Wife.
Often residents’ family members are present and they too enjoy participating with their loved-one & learning a little Shakespeare. Beyond it being a nice activity or diversion, Marysue notes positives outcomes: "I notice that some residents are transported during the performance. They are really with the story, or the action, or totally in the participatory moment. In those moments, their dementia doesn’t matter to them or to anyone else one whit, and it’s those moments that I seek to create more and more of for persons with significant memory loss." Now that’s Changing Aging!
Marysue Moses is available for bookings. ~Helen Rickman