Brave Bold Drama is a Bristol-based theatre and community arts company who work to dismantle the cultural and financial barriers that can prevent people in the community from accessing artistic and cultural events and from exploring their own creativity.
Established in 2013 by Gill Simmons, the company's artistic director, Brave Bold Drama has predominantly worked to make theatre and workshops for children and young people, and to find ways of making sure these performances and opportunities reached families who might otherwise not enjoy live theatre and workshops together.
This year, however, has seen an exciting development in who Brave Bold Drama make work for. We were awarded an arts council grant, along with some other smaller funding from organisations like Bristol Ageing Better and Quartet Community Foundation to devise a piece of dementia-sensitive theatre based on Alice in Wonderland.
Wonderland was made in March 2019 and is currently touring care homes, day centres and some public venues across the South West until July 2019. The show has been specifically devised and designed to fit within a care-home setting, and the style in which the show is performed is intended to be engaging and enriching for people living with dementia. It has been a great privilege to make work for people who face very real barriers to accessing live performance.
A Weston-based organisation, That Creative Thingy Wotsit (TCTW) who champion arts in dementia settings, have supported the show from the outset, and it's touring to several care homes in Weston who partner with TCTW. Their director, Stephen Watters, says "people living with dementia in care homes have so many barriers preventing them from enjoying performance . We used to try to take people out to conventional theatres, but the environment was just not suitable for our clients and they would often become distressed, so we had to stop. Bringing a show that has been made with their needs in mind right to their home is just marvellous. The clients thoroughly enjoyed the performances, and there was absolutely no difficulty in them accessing the show."
What's also been marvellous about the Wonderland tour so far is that many care homes have extended the invitation to families of residents, so the children and grandchildren of residents have been able to enjoy the performance together. Giving a family a shared moment of happiness and playfulness is just delightful.
Brave Bold Drama worked with a dementia specialist, Dawn Corse, who has devised a post-show pack for care home activity coordinators so that the spirit of Wonderland can hopefully continue even after the performance has gone.
If you'd like to know more about Brave Bold Drama's production Wonderland, you can visit our website.
We are also running a seminar about how we made Wonderland to be dementia-sensitive on Thursday 23rd May from 10.30-12noon at our base, the community arts centre Creative Workspace in South Bristol.
Tickets are £5.50 and includes the option to stay on for an hour of Dementia Friends training from 1- 2pm led by Bristol Dementia Action Alliance.
More information and tickets available from the website.