The artistic director chatted to Emma Clarendon about The Dot Collective’s One Hundred Trillion, being performed at the Old Vic Workrooms from the 7-11 May 2019.
How did the concept for the show come about?
The Dot Collective was formed because of a lack of professional theatre in care. I was running a theatre company, First Draft Theatre, producing new writing on the London Fringe circuit, putting a lot of energy into bringing in an audience. At the same time my grandmother was taken into care and it became very apparent we had an audience desperate to watch theatre there, they just couldn’t access it. We started by taking fresh adaptations of classic plays into care homes, transforming living and dining rooms with sets and lighting that allowed our audience to feel like they had stepped into a different world only an hour after they’d finished eating their cauliflower cheese in that same room.
But I wanted to offer them something entirely unique, with the variety you can find in London. I looked for a way that we could present them with new writing, that they could still associate with and enjoy. This meant creating plays based on their own memories and experiences, so we started running storytelling workshops with care groups. It became a joyful way that we could extend creative and social stimulation for those with dementia and in care. We wanted to share the work we create with the care homes to a public audience, and present new writing that shares the spirit and experience of a huge proportion of society whose stories rarely get heard – and they should, because these are the stories they do remember!
How do you hope that that One Hundred Trillion will shed new light on dementia?
I hope this project will raise positive awareness, and show people that it’s incredibly apparent through this work that you can still be you with dementia, and not everything is lost. For too long dementia has been left in the dark and many who currently live with and care for dementia find it hard to talk about it. Dementia is an incredibly challenging disease, but we can transform the quality of life for those living in care, those with dementia and those who care for them by encouraging a dialogue.
We can offer more in-the-moment positive experiences – focusing on what they can do, not what they can’t do, and getting their voices heard. There is no medical cure for dementia, and diagnosis numbers are on the rise, which means we will all either get it or have a close friend who does. Personally, I don’t want to be silent in a care home – I’d like to continue to create, in whatever way that might be possible. I hope One Hundred Trillion will allow our audience to look at the disease and talk about it in the moment without stigma, so that future generations won’t be as afraid. One Hundred Trillion is about living with dementia, not suffering from it.
What are your hopes for the show in the future? I hope that we can raise awareness in the theatre industry of the work we create, and encourage more work to be produced in this way. The stories we hear are so worthy of being written up by playwrights, and even more worthy of being presented in professional theatres. After the Old Vic Workrooms, we’ll be touring a reduced set and workshop experience to residential care homes and dementia cafes across the country.
How would you describe the show? A colourful and bonkers world of reality, memory and experience.
By Emma Clarendon
One Hundred Trillion will play at the Old Vic Workrooms from the 7th to the 11th May. For more information visit:https://www.thedotcollective.com/