Kaleidoscope: A portrayal of dementia
When you think of dementia, how does it relate to a kaleidoscope? When you look through a kaleidoscope, the shapes are constantly changing. What one may see as beautiful, another may see as disorganized and chaotic. This is the idea that a recent production I saw at Creative Cauldron, a black box theatre in Falls Church, VA.
The Kensington in Falls Church, VA has teamed up with Creative Cauldron to provide dementia experts to speak on a post-discussion panel after each showing. I had the honor of participating on the panel on Thursday, May 18.
My wonderful boyfriend was able to watch the show with me on Thursday. He is almost a dementia expert himself as he has not stopped learning about dementia since our very first date when he asked me “What do you do?” Since then he has added the following to his resume:
- Watching my presentations
- Hearing the personal stories of families impacted by dementia at those presentations
- Watching movies as I critique their depiction of dementia
- Reading every article I write
- Watching every Facebook Live video I make
- Listening as I help strangers who confess their struggles with dementia to me while we are having dinner.
- Hearing the stories of those I helped or am helping
Several times during the show I took a peek over at him to find his eyes incredibly wide and jaw slightly open. Despite all of his “training” and “experience” (clearly outlined on his resume) he was moved by the play and learned something.
The play begins with the well-spoken, charismatic, intelligent, main character, Evelyn Thorne. As the play progresses you see Evelyn losing some of her abilities as they introduce family dynamics into different areas of her life.
I loved how the production showcased the struggle of the person with dementia and their family members. It showed the “behind the scenes” challenges they face with one another, with themselves, with the person with dementia. Dementia impacts many people in many ways. We see Evelyn’s family struggle with the right techniques to use and we see the impact the “wrong” techniques have on someone with dementia.
I found the post-production panel to be helpful for those who viewed the play to understand the impact better, have their questions answered, and share their own stories. While I participated, one woman shared her own personal cognitive struggles with the audience. I was also surprised to find that several cast members were personally impacted by dementia.
The best part of the discussion was that the audience and cast agreed that neither aging nor dementia should be feared, rather we should attempt to see the glass half full and change our approach to make aging and dementia more livable and enjoyable.
I don’t want to give away the best parts of the show but be prepared to laugh, cry, learn, and just be amazed! The discussion series is continuing until the final show on May 28th. Learn more about Kaleidoscope and purchase tickets.