“Setting the Stage for Successful Caregiving”

In 2007, Joan Lipkin taught a six month class in expressive theatre for people with Alzheimers and early stage dementia, concluding with a sold out performance of the class’s Think Tank Players. It was so well received, we were asked to create a second project for the St. Louis Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. This time, we are using performance to highlight the way real caregivers deal with the everyday challenges of giving care to patients affected by Alzheimer’s Disease. Utilizing a variety of improvisational techniques including Playback Theatre, “Spolin Games,” and work by Paul Sills and Augusto Boal, performers involve and unite the audience by enacting moments of joy, confusion, love, and frustration from the caregiving experience as well as strategies for coping. The project includes a performance at The Joanne Parrish Knight Spring Caregiving Conference at The Ethical Society of St. Louis. (more...)

What we are doing...

Building on the success of THINK TANK, a project we developed that focused on creating theatre with people with early stage dementia and Alzheimer’s, That Uppity Theatre Company has turned its attention to the caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s.

Much has been said and written about Alzheimer's, a disease which affects 5.3 million people in the United States. Though advances have been made in the treatment of patients with Alzheimer's, precious little has been said about their caregivers, who are the unsung heroes in the struggle to combat the effects of Alzheimer's. The role of family caregiver is ever changing. As a loved one with memory loss goes through the stages of Alzheimer’s disease, their needs change and so does the type of care they require. Caregivers must adapt and find ways to cope with the challenges of this constant evolution.

At the 2009 Annual Joanne Parrish Knight Caregiver Conference hosted by The St. Louis Ethical Society, actors with That Uppity Theatre Company use performance to highlight the way real caregivers deal with these everyday challenges. That Uppity Theatre Company Artistic Director Joan Lipkin describes the innovative performance method she uses: “I ask members of the audience to volunteer stories or experiences with caregiving. I then relay those moments to the actors and they enact the scene. Sometimes, we ask audience members for their strategies for dealing with difficult situations and then theatrically play those out as well.”

Lipkin stresses that no one is put on the spot or asked to disclose a private moment if they choose not to. The point of the performance is not to bring undesired attention to individuals, but to share universal experiences of caregivers and support their efforts. She says, “Caregivers often go unnoticed. They may neglect their own needs. This program is meant to illustrate what they do, what they give, how important they are and to offer strategies for coping.”

Using theatre in engaging and entertaining ways to address difficult subject matter is not new to That Uppity Theatre Company. Tasteful humor is a hallmark of much of our company’s focus which includes working with people with disabilities, LGBT youth and adults and women with cancer among other populations.

The program starts at 7:00 pm., Thursday, May 28, 2009 at The Ethical Society of St. Louis, located at 9001 Clayton Road in St. Louis, MO. “Tuition” is $15.

That Uppity Theatre Company • 4466 West Pine Boulevard, Suite 13C • Saint Louis, MO 63108
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