Producer Nate Sence talks about some of the Offstage activities that are part of this project
One of the exciting things about The Lion’s Face is how easy it has been to build interest in the project. I am not talking about just the opera (which will be stunning and will stand on its own as a work of art), but the full project including the off-stage work we are coordinating. In each city that the opera tours to we have cultivated relationships with local science ambassadors who will help us to reach out to the public to increase awareness and break down the stigma associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
A couple of examples of how we are working with non-arts partners:
In Newcastle we are working with the team from DeNDRoN and the Alzheimer’s Society who are planning an exhibition which will present a collection of personal accounts of those living with, or caring for those with, dementia. This exhibition will be at Northern Stage for the three weeks leading up to the performances. The team have also organised post-show discussions with the creative team, and professionals in the field of dementia research to dive into the themes of the opera as well as how the opera was developed.
In Oxford a full day of activity is being organised by the team at the Oxford Playhouse and will be held at the Ashmolean Museum across the street from the theatre. The idea is to create a Dementia Awareness Day at the Ashmolean which will consist of talks, workshops and a ‘dementia care fayre’. In addition to the opera in the evening there will again be pre and post show discussions similar to the ones described above.
Similar activity is happening at every stop along the way, so stay tuned as we finalise those details. Everything will be posted up on the Off Stage section of this blog, so keep checking back. As always, check your local venue websites to get the full details of any activity that might be taking place.
Through this project we’ve discovered that everyone has been affected by Alzheimer’s disease in one way or another, making this opera feels timely. The work of our partners and ambassadors have inspired us to push the opera to its limit, and challenged us to come up with curious and interesting ways to introduce the themes to our audiences. One such organisation that has been an inspiration to us, and who will join us in a few locations on tour to lead discussions is the team from Music for Life, run by Wigmore Hall.
Music for Life is a project that provides interactive music workshops for people living with dementia. During projects, specially trained musicians work alongside small groups of people with dementia and their carers – drawing out individuals and enhancing communication. This programme has helped to shape our understanding of the transformational power of music. It can’t be said enough that it is these front line groups of researchers (including our partners at King’s College London, Institute of Psychiatry), scientists, carers, and (in the case of Music for Life) musicians who have inspired us to make this our largest ever tour of a new music piece aimed at adult audiences.