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Friends of the Elderly’s Malvern Day Care Clients Enjoy Festive Fun At Dementia-Friendly Pantomime

Heigh-Ho, Heigh-Ho It’s Off to See Snow White We Go

To start the festive fun in the run up to Christmas, clients from Friends of the Elderly’s Malvern Day Care have been getting into the Christmas Spirit. As a special treat, they have been enjoying a thigh-slapping Christmas tradition with a visit to The Coach House Theatre to see a very special dementia-friendly performance of the Snow White pantomime.

Malvern Day Care, which is run by Charity, Friends of the Elderly, supports people who are living with dementia and a range of age-related conditions. Shirley Bradley, the Charity’s Head of Day Care Services said: “Everyone at Malvern Day Care loves to make sure our clients have a lovely Christmas and thoroughly enjoy engaging with them in a wide range of Yuletide activities. When Chris Bassett, Executive Trustee of The Coach House Theatre contacted me about putting on their Christmas show and that it could be adapted for people living with dementia, it sounded like a fantastic idea.

“I said to Chris that as well as taking our own Day Care clients and some of our residents from Bradbury Court, our dementia care home at Friends of the Elderly Malvern, that I would also put the invite out to members of the Malvern Dementia Action Alliance.”

The 2023 production is the pantomime classic, Snow White and, as part of its Christmas run, a dementia-friendly performance took place on Friday 15th December. The dementia-friendly show was staged by students of Drama Studios London who are managed locally by professional Director and Producer, Kirsty Cubberley of The Phoenix Collective.

“This is our third collaboration with The Coach House Theatre. It’s wonderful to be able to give live theatre opportunities to audiences – both young and old – in and around Malvern. It’s also great to be able to offer many first jobs for professional actors and celebrate the Christmas season,” said Kirsty. “We are delighted to be working with Friends of the Elderly, Malvern Dementia Action Alliance, community groups and local schools to welcome people into theatres to celebrate festive stories, Yuletide traditions and new making new connections.”

To make the pantomime dementia-friendly, the theatre, cast and crew worked hard to make the performance an enjoyable experience for those living with dementia, making it not only accessible but entertaining as well. “The Snow White pantomime has been thoughtfully tailored for people living with dementia, their families and carers, so that everyone can enjoy the show in an environment that is comfortable and supportive,” added Shirley.

“The volume of music was reduced, the house lights dimmed so the auditorium still had ambient lighting, the cast were fully briefed on how some of the audience may react during the show and there were additional staff on hand to offer support if needed. This created a relaxed, friendly, comfortable and safe environment,” said Chris.

The Christmas event was funded by the Malvern Town Council and proved to be a huge success with everyone enjoying the show.  Mark Hamer, the Chairman of The Malvern Dementia Action Alliance said: “We were really pleased to be given the opportunity to offer our members the chance to attend this wonderful performance and I have been told that it was a magical afternoon. It is so important that people living with dementia remain connected and feel involved, as this is the key to maintaining quality of life even into the later stages of the illness.”

The Grimm Fairytale of Snow White has always enchanted audiences and not only made movie history when Disney premiered the animated film on 21st December 1937, but still remains one of the most popular pantomimes performed today.

The classic story of Snow White is a magical tale. The Wicked Queen tries to do away with her Step-Daughter as she is jealous of her beauty only to discover that she’s alive and well living with seven dwarves in a cottage in the woods. Disguising herself as a Hag, the Queen brings a poisoned apple to Snow White who, after taking a bite, falls into a deep sleep that can only be broken by a kiss from the Prince. The moral of Snow White’s story is that vanity will not take you far, but kindness will,” added Kirsty.

“It was a great show and really got us all in the Christmas Spirit,” continued Shirley. “The Day Care clients and Bradbury Court residents who attended had a wonderful time and laughed at the traditional panto gags. It was fantastic to see and hear them all having a lovely afternoon. It was a brilliant Christmas treat for everyone,” Shirley concluded.

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