Intergenerational theatre group Magic Me has worked with Punchdrunk Enrichment to turn a South London Anchor care home into an archetypal English village green that will be the setting for immersive escapist pursuits for residents.
Residents of the Greenhive care home have formed a village committee of Greenhive Green, gathering weekly in the fictional world for committee meetings that are part-soap opera, part-game and part-workshop. Driven by the story of Greenhive Green’s ongoing rivalry with neighbouring village Blarford, residents and care home staff participate in multi-sensory activities which have varied from writing poetry to planting flowers.
The project will culminate in a celebration of the committee and their achievements, with special guests including singer-songwriter Beatie Wolfe who returns for her second performance in Greenhive Green. Each resident will then be invited to their own individual thank you ceremony with Punchdrunk Enrichment’s facilitators.
Peter Higgin, enrichment director for Punchdrunk, said: “We are constantly looking to deliver high impact work which both challenges our practice and challenges notions about what is possible within participatory settings. Our ambition for the project has been to give the residents including those living with dementia an empowering and magical experience. The residents and staff have been the real stars – their energy, humour and willingness to come on the journey with us has been humbling.”
Greenhive Green is the first project in a two year programme of residencies set up by Magic Me, hosted in four London care homes run by Anchor, England’s largest not-for-profit provider of care and housing for older people.
Susan Langford MBE, director of Magic Me said: “This programme came out of a desire to challenge the ageist notion that older people, including those living with dementia, might not enjoy or be able to participate in cutting-edge work like Punchdrunk’s wonderful immersive worlds. Having worked in care homes for over 25 years, the programme has allowed Magic Me to support some of the most exciting companies in the country to bring their work to a care home audience for the first time. Together we have helped them develop their practice for this specific audience without dumbing down or diluting their work .”
Other companies taking part in the programme later this year are performance artist and activist Lois Weaver, alt-cabaret collective Duckie and aerialist and circus company, Upswing. Research from the programme will be published in June 2016 and February 2017. The programme is funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and Wakefield and Tetley Trust.
Connie Oppong MBE, Manager of Greenhive, which was the first care home in London to be rated “Outstanding” by the Care Quality Commission said: “This project has proved to be a fantastic addition to the activities we organise here. The residents have thoroughly enjoyed themselves and have been actively looking forward to the sessions each week. We have had positive feedback from residents’ relatives about the impact of this work. One family told us their father has shown a marked difference in his confidence and ability to engage over the weeks he has been involved in Greenhive Green.”
Ms Langford added: “Care homes aren’t always the depressing places we all fear them to be, Punchdrunk’s Greenhive Green has proved that they can be exciting, forward thinking places where amazing things can happen!”