Isn’t it great to be back out enjoying the real world, now Covid-19 restrictions have been lifted? Well, perhaps for some. Issues such as age and ill-health can mean that for some of us the challenges are still there. And that can be incredibly isolating.
Now a group of creative people are tackling this exact issue in a story-performance of Constellations. It’s a candid and urgent exploration of the impact of loneliness and isolation on our elderly community. With playful humour and refreshing honesty, the nine members of Re-Live’s Company of Elders explore the stigma of loneliness and how the arts can build resilience to cope and respond to this issue.
Re-Live and the creative cast of Constellations
Re-Live is a Welsh Arts in Health charity and their latest theatre show is devised and performed by a diverse cast of older people, aged between 72 and 95, living across Wales. And this Constellations cast includes opera singer Julian Moyle, who at the age of 95 has recently married for the first time, making headlines around the world.
The cast also includes Nicky Delgado, 74, who had a stroke during lockdown. He’s rehabilitating his speech and movement by taking part in the project. His stroke has left him unable to leave the house, but in the digital world he can express his poetic soul from his armchair. And Jill Grey, 82. She received a scam call and shares its devastating impact on her confidence and desire to connect with others. Grey uses the arts to boost her wellbeing, through summoning memories of Jive nights in 1950s Cardiff.
And Nora Jones, 76, who is living with Parkinson’s. She shares how despite the challenges she faces in her life as an older person, the greatest challenge of her life was combating isolation when living in London. Since she moved back to Wales in later life, she has found a new sense of community and loves nothing more than speaking Welsh again.
Whilst most post-pandemic theatre productions are now back ‘in the room’, working with an aging cast presents unique challenges. And that makes Zoom performances the perfect medium.
For some of this wonderful and diverse cast, ill health means that leaving the house is difficult. For others their geographical isolation keeps them apart. By rehearsing and performing live on Zoom, the pan-Wales cast who are located from Cardiff to Caernarfon, are able to create together and share their experiences from their homes.
Digital exclusion is still an issue for older people and does lead to social isolation. So, it’s vital to help everyone get connected online. Which is where Re-Live, with help from the Welsh Government, come in.
Constellations premieres live over Zoom, to young and old audiences this week. The performance is in memory of Company of Elders’ member Michael/Michelle O’Neil, 84. During their time in the group Michael/Michelle was able to share their transgender identity, and how living with the secret had prevented them from finding real belonging. Michael/Michelle died in April, but they found total acceptance within this group of creative, non-judgemental older people.
When: On until 17th June 2022 at 1pm and 7pm on the 16th
Where: Watch live online via Zoom
£: Tickets are priced on a pay-what-you-can basis
More info: www.re-live.org.uk/constellations