The Mnemonic Theatre Project
My name is Josh Rice, and I’m a theatre maker, teaching artist and puppeteer. My Uncle Joe lived with dementia, and my mother and my family were his primary caregivers in his later years. I could see the toll it took on him, and my family. The Mnemonic Theatre Project is inspired by my Uncle Joe, and my desire to try to help people the only way I know how–through the arts.
Our VISION is a world in which those living with Alzheimer’s and Dementia can willingly let go of their past, find community in their present, and live functioning, fulfilling lives in the now. Our MISSION is to enrich the lives of those living with Alzheimer’s and Dementia by using the performing arts as a vehicle to build a more dignified, inclusive, and respectful life.
THE FACTS: The Alzheimer’s epidemic in 1 minute and 45 seconds:
WHAT WE DO: Our goal is to create community through creativity. The Mnemonic Theatre Project (MTP) uses the performing arts, specifically puppetry, music, dance, and creative play to devise original ensemble-based theatre works that celebrate and enhance the lives of those living with Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias.
HOW WE DO IT:
1) DESIGN/BUILDING: The participants start by designing and building their own puppets based on a prototype design, exercising their fine motor skills in a nurturing hands-on approach.
2) CREATIVE PLAY: We then engage the participants in creative play to generate material, prompting scenarios, and creating a safe space for the sharing of stories, experiences, and talents while also teaching technique.
3) PERFORMANCE: The participants rehearse and perform their own show for an audience of their peers, family, and friends, receiving instant feelings of adulation and accomplishment.
I BELIEVE: Engaging in creative activities has a regressive effect on Alzheimer’s Disease, causing neural connectors in the brain to be strengthened and regenerated.
In the room, I have seen results of this project have a profoundly positive effect on mood, disposition, socialization, short-term memory recall, and sense of self. But more research must be done.
WHERE YOU COME IN: With the Baby Boom generation entering their senior years, cases of Alzheimer’s are projected to triple, and yet this disease is one of the least funded research efforts. Your funds will go toward:
1) A joint research effort for a longer-term study on the positive effects of creativity on Alzheimer’s and Dementia between The Wartburg, an adult-care facility in Mt. Vernon, NY; and Psychology Department at Sarah Lawrence College, an award-winning liberal arts school in the next door community of Bronxville, NY
2) Fees for our Teaching Artists
3) Website creation and design