THE Puffin ward in the children’s unit, Cork University Hospital, (CUH) is busy.

Established 40 years ago, Children in Hospital Ireland (CHI) is a voluntary service that provides play and activities for children in hospitals. The charity has 400 volunteers in 20 hospitals.

“Play is so important for children in hospital, because it gives them something normal and familiar to do when they’re there in an abnormal, foreign situation. Having toys, and interacting with other children, allows them just to be children, and not just patients,” says CHI chief executive officer, Mary O’Connor. (Examiner) >


‘An Evening With Dementia’ @ Helix

Written and performed by Trevor T Smith, ‘An Evening With Dementia’ will be staged at the Helix Theatre, DCU, Collins Avenue, Glasnevin, Dublin 9, next Thursday and Friday, April 28 and 29. It then moves to the Wexford Arts Centre on May 7.

Trevor T. Smith’s award-winning play, fresh from the Edinburgh fringe, offers a poignant yet humorous perspective of an old actor cut loose from society by a failing memory and allows us to empathize with the state of being called dementia. From an ex-RSC actor. View trailer on Youtube.

An Evening With Dementia is a new play which dares to deal in depth with an issue theatre often ignores. The play takes its audience on an illuminating, and at times very funny, adventure into the wilds of the mind of an old actor who has been cut loose from society by a fading memory. It brings new insights to this poignant illness which affects nearly a million people in the UK, but which is little understood.

The causes of dementia remain a mystery. Science seeks a cure for it with research into its physicality, but Trevor T. Smith achieves in his one-hour play a different understanding to this heart-rending problem.

As an actor he brings to it an original talent developed in Chekov and Music Hall, and in two famous companies, the Royal Shakespeare Company and, in the other Stratford, Joan Littlewood’s Theatre Workshop in London’s East End.

At last year’s Edinburgh Festival the play was given five stars by The British Theatre Guide which hailed it as ‘….one of the most essential pieces of theatre to come out of the Fringe’.

An Evening With Dementia is a new play which dares to deal in depth with an issue theatre often ignores. During its three week run at the Edinburgh Festival it was much applauded and appreciated by carers, nurses and doctors. One nurse wrote,‘Anyone caring for someone with dementia should certainly see this play’.

Lesley Warner wrote of it in the medical magazine Mental Health Practice: ‘When putting on an Edinburgh Fringe show about mental health issues it must be tricky deciding on the balance between raising awareness, educating the audience and simply providing entertainment. In An Evening with Dementia Trevor T. Smith’s magnificent portrayal of a former actor living in a care home combines all three elements.’

Other reviewers included The Scotsman: ‘Ultimately, the well-paced script succeeds in highlighting the unseen humanity of a dementia sufferer’, Fest Theatre Review: ‘Trevor T. Smith gives an affecting performance as he makes visible the rarely-seen struggle of dementia sufferers from their own perspective’, and The British Theatre Guide called it ‘heartrending’ and hailed it‘as one of the most essential pieces of theatre which has come out of the Fringe’.

Jill Prentice, a psychoanalytical psychotherapist who works in the Scottish Institute of Human Relations wrote, ‘From a professional point of view I found the play very instructive in trying to get inside the mind of someone in a dependent situation, in a care home and struggling with aspects of dementia. The humour in it is never cruel or patronising but adds to the heart warming and poignant story as the elderly resident moves between present and past experiences, never being quite sure what is his reality. Whether a lay or professional person this play will give great enjoyment and help them to reconsider their feelings about older people and the ageing process. I would love to include it in my training courses for staff working with older people.’

Voices of hope in dark times

An hour-long radio play aims to highlight the experience of those suffering chronic illness, writes SYLVIA THOMPSON

CREATIVE WRITING and art workshops in acute hospitals and classical music performances in daycare units have become almost commonplace in Ireland. But a play about chronic illnesses? Now, there’s something new.

When playwright Rebecca Moran was approached by the patient-led chronic disease self-management programme, Ceart PatientWise, to write a play based on people’s experiences of illness, she immediately responded with interest.

Together with Anne Cody from the Kilkenny-based initiative, Moran received Arts Council funding to research the possibilities of the community project. Initially, 18 people volunteered to participate in writing and theatre based workshops to develop a stage play. (Times) >>>

The radio play, A Time for Hope and Desperation, by Rebecca Moran will be broadcast on KCLR 96FM tomorrow evening at 8pm and again on Sunday at 8pm. People in the Kilkenny/Carlow area can tune into the station on their FM band. Those in other parts of the country can listen to it on KCLR at the same time or at any time after the second broadcast.