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Drama & the Elderly: DCP HELSINKI June 10-11, 2015

DCP grupp

This was the first time that the theme of applied drama & the elderly was addressed as its own seminar in Finland. The event provided the opportunity for a diverse, multilingual, multigenerational and multiprofessional group of participants to come together to share knowledge, experience and to network.

The seminar was a great success! The topics of the seminar were strong and powerful: Using Drama with the Elderly. As a large group of diverse participants, we integrated various different working methods on a multilingual level and working simultaneously across different language groups was particularly powerful: English, Swedish, Finnish and sign language. This made the seminar accessible to diverse groups.

This was an excellent professional development opportunity. There was sharing of knowledge by experienced practitioners and younger colleagues. The participation of the senior citizens was especially fruitful and made the work meaningful.

We experimented with new forms of work alongside more traditional workshops (learning by doing) and presentations:
carousel (where we invited outside organisations to share their programs in a rotating fashion in order to broaden the network)
open space (which was a directed, but self-organising way to empower the participants of the seminar to discuss the topics which they felt were of importance
graphic facilitation which was used as a way to document the talks, workshop take-always and tacit knowledge/thoughts of the participants. It offered an ongoing reflection of the work we were doing.


Presentations: For example, the outside speakers brought new research from the field of health and social care from different perspectives

We had input from Sweden via Margret Lepp from Gothenburg University who was able to share her vast resources and research outcomes, giving the participants more evidence of how drama can reactivate memory.


Merja Mäksisalo-Ropponen, underlined the importance and contribution drama can make to the care of the elderly.

The work was intensive and beneficial
The wide variety of participant backgrounds (diverse, multigenerational, multi professional) gave us a wide lens through which to examine the emerging issues. The seminar provided an opportunity for people, both from within and outside of Finland, to familiarize themselves with the Finnish Swedes


The attendance was good and the commitment was strong. When planning our final seminar, we had hesitated making it a two-day seminar. However, we were happy to see that the participants stayed until the end, with most attending both days. Participants felt that there was a non-threatening environment and we they were able to discuss difficult issues relating to elderly care & societal challenges.


There was a good blend of academic research and practical knowledge.
New forms used like: carrousel & open space—provided room to share information and experiences from different perspectives. It allowed different organizations and practitioners to bring attention to the work they are doing and it allowed participants to raise their own voices, discussing issues which they felt were meaningful.

The seminar was facilitated well. There was also good visual support to guide the large group work.

Participants loved the international approach. The following were especially highlighted:
· Exploring cultural differences.
· Sharing practice.
· Cross pollination of methods: different strains of applied drama, dance, music, storytelling, etc.
· As seasoned practitioners we identified many similarities as well as differences in the sources of our work.
· As with each previous meeting, we got closer to each other and our partners.
Many people learnt much more about the theme, as drama and the elderly was not new issue for them.
The research angle was important to be able to bring evidence to light about how drama can, for example, really make positive changes to the lives of elderly people suffering from memory loss.

What could have been done better and how? Although there had been much planning beforehand, we found it challenge to use of the space well with regards to the acoustics.
The core group did not get to attend each other’s workshops due to scheduling constraints
1.5 hours was challenging for the workshop (2 hours would have been better)
The invitation letter to the international partners could have come earlier and that would have helped with the practical arrangements

Network cooperation- are we ready to continue?
· We are ready to continue working through this living network.

Margret Lepp (from Gothenburg University) showed a concrete interest to begin working with the group.

We will begin to familiarize ourselves with the new Erasmus Plus programs as it is important to deepen and widen our co-operation
we now know each other very well,
we know that we can work with each other successfully,
we have already made the initial investment of time and energy and have created a fruitful ground on which to build our professional practice.


Press release!

Hi Everyone!

Irmgard asked me to add this for us all to see – we’re in the newspaper!!!

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A Video Snapshot from Hamm!

Hey everyone! I’ve put together a short video from the many hours of footage and photos that I took. I hope you enjoy it!


Until Helsinki! Owen

Meeting in Hamm Germany 19.2.-22.2.2015

19.2.2015 Thursday
Our visit to Germany was a good balance of excursions, performances, co-operation amongst ourselves and with local teachers/theatre practitioners. We began our meeting in Hamm with a tour of the Bildungswerk für Theater und Kultur and we got the opportunity to see the surroundings in which our German colleagues are working.

We made an outing to Waldbühne, an impressive open air theatre, and had a very informative tour of the grounds. We marveled at the size and the scope of the theatre which is run completely by amateurs and volunteer performers. What was especially interesting was the involvement of the volunteers at a family level and the commitment which the young people have to the theatre. It was quite an exceptional example and once again we reflected on the differences between amateur theatre activity in our countries.

The primary venue for our gathering was Schloss Oberwerries–a marvelous castle. A very unique surrounding which afforded us the opportunity to work and be together intensively. That evening we had our project meeting and discussed how we would go forward with our workbooklet. We decided on a structure which we would work with in order to make the collection of material easier. Each country would be responsible for their own section. Part of the learning in the project is learning how to collect our experiences and the knowledge that we have accumulated–and how to impart it to others. After dinner, we gathered together to reflect visually on our own practice and gain a deeper understanding of how we and our colleagues: situate our own practice, what fields we work in, with whom, why, etc.

Our next day began with a visit to Helios Theatre and the director of the theatre gave us a good overview of what they, as a professional theatre, do and how they do it. We found many similarities in our work and approaches. We continued to Friedensschule Hamm to observe a drama lesson in a comprehensive school. As many of us work in education, it was interesting to see the different ways of approaching drama in education, different concepts of performance, evaluation and feedback. Again, the visit to the school shone new light on our own ways of “doing drama” and gave us an opportunity to reflect on those pedagogical differences.

In the evening, we enjoyed dinner theatre which was performed by some former students of Bildunswerk für Theater und Kultur.

On this day, our group grew and we had local participants join us, enriching our process. Our day began with a marvelous performance by Hanse Suitcase Theater-Project für unemployed young people. The performance was a work-in-progress, performed in English and it was very powerful. It was interesting to see how cultural elements such as extracts from A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh and Allen Ginsberg were incorporated into the dramatic text and how they still sounded relevant when spoken by these young people.
The day continued with a series of workshops by Danny Friedrich, Sabine Stein, Raquel Benmergui and Katrin Nielsen. The workshops gave us a good variety of approaches and perspectives on participatory methods. In the evening, we met with the core group to evaluate our learning and discuss the future.

On our final day we had a great workshop by Allan Owens on the theme of process drama. Allan led us in a wonderful session which allowed us to reflect in action: We did something together; we performed; finally, we interpreted and discussed things together. We benefited from the fresh experience of those who were newcomers to process drama and from the knowledge of those who are more experienced. This was a good way to end our time together.

Estonia 21st – 25th October: Sillamae & Narva – ‘Wrap up meeting’.

Feedback and evaluation session: all international partners present
This process was unique. The experience from these days cannot be
repeated. The questions generated were challenging. All present were
so happy to have started this work, fully committed to it and glad
that very practical things were being networked. The atmosphere was
very good indeed. Translation needed but we found our way through.
People felt safe to say things.
Suggestions for improvement:
 New people in the workshop could have been introduced to the
practitioners as they were coming in fresh to the whole
process. This would have made sense at the start of the day in
 There were very many emotions raised through the workshops,
some of these could have been allowed time and opportunity to
process more.
 The days were so rich and nationally acknowledged and yet local
people in the local area were hard to attract in to the drama
and theatre world. It would be good for more people to have
seen the whole scope of the work done over the three days. How
could it have been advertised even more, young drama students
for example whose work will not be in the theatre, but they
could get work in this field.
 Can we really show our feelings, can we show not only our
thoughts, but our feelings.
 For the management team it was a challenge as the event program
came together intentionally after the first three days at
Did we achieve the objectives?
 Yes. The topics of the seminar were strong and powerful
 integrating on a multilingual level working different ethnic and
language groups was particularly powerful
 This was an excellent professional development opportunity.
 New forms of work were created, new workshops were designed and
presented at theconference.
What was good?
 Exploring cultural differences.
 Creating dream teams from many countries.
 Sharing practice.
 Having time to be able to reflect on personal practice and new
practices encountered.
 Cross pollination of the methods
 identifying similarities as well as differences in sources.2
 Getting closer to each other and our partners.
What could have been done better and how?
 Having a full and clear outline of the agenda on day one.
 More time at the beginning of the process to get to know each other
perhaps in small groups quickly into the larger groups so that we
could know each other perhaps we spent too long in small groups this
restricted getting to know everybody. In summary not to spend too
much time in small groups to mix from the beginning. Perhaps the
whole group experience at the beginning and then move into small
groups. Together, together, together and then into small groups
slots in the same time, particularly because each group has a
background it would be good to know what this is and what they were
doing strategically doing rather than knowing we’re doing this
initially on a personal level.
 In Helsinki it would be good to introduce people who are not new to
our group to meet us, for example this was the first time that the
group talent had met the whole group we could have given them the
opportunity to meet on an individual level.
Did the program run in a satisfying way?
 Yes, we were extremely satisfied, please see the points above which
explain why.
Did the workshops meet the task set?
 Yes they allowed as to get to know our practices over a sustained
period whilst also welcoming new people into the group.
Did we learn from this meeting we are now having?
 Yes, a great deal.
 It is hard to advertise creativity, to advertise the whole program.
Perhaps there should be some meetings as the day of running
including ongoing evaluation in order to make adjustments to the
program as necessary.
Network cooperation- are we ready to continue?
 Yes, absolutely,we are ready to continue working through this
Picking up points from meeting one in Chester as follows.
 The booklet book is in process.
 A meeting was held with three of the partner countries and feedback
was shared with the four.
 Agreement was that in Germany we must have an allotted schedule time
in the schedule to talk about booklet.
 First the afternoon would be for the booklet discussion, Friday
would be to work. Saturday and Sunday workshops. So the Thursday
afternoon to evening is to work on the book. Rija(Germany) will take
responsibility to write an outline proposal that will be distributed
to the rest of the group for comment. Agreed date by the end of
 Site blog new materials already been uploaded and the agreement was
that now everybody would comment on the blog this time rather than 3
one person writing the report of this meeting.
 Raquel will set the initial comments to which everybody else needs
to respond.
 Some members are experienced difficulty getting onto the blog for
example Germany were not able to respond action agreed.
 Allan to ask Owen to outline the process again. It appeared that
many people had their message sent by some weeks later failed to get
through. People need to go again to the blog and persevere there is
a box which tells you to type in and it goes perseverance is needed.
 Some of the visualisations would be really appreciated as a response
from the core team and the whole of the course.
 There is an opportunity for people to comment on their own
experience so that would at least one entry where there is
 Nobody will comment if one person explains everything each person
needs to explain what their experience of the course is comments
like this should provie a multiple perspective report on what has
 There was general agreement that Raquel (Finland) will send the
address of the blog to everybody who attended the Estonia program.
 New certificates of attendance are to be sent out.
 No issues raised
Any other business
 The next meeting will be held on Thursday in Germany so all the
tasks such as budget and planning towards the next workshop will be
reported then.
 On the Friday there will be a visit to schools to have a look at
their theatre visit as far as is possible there will be a chance to
go to theatre work for children if it’s possible this is very
international touring theatre.
 In the evening we will stay in the Castle. On Saturday with the
Workshops In the Morning There Will Be Two Parallels In the
Afternoon on Saturday on the Sunday something will be opportunity
for each country to do workshops that they would do the target
groups of the unemployed and young people is also a multicultural
group. There will also be in theatre pedagogues. So we’re working
with the people who are working with the people. Germany is job
network between job centres and communities town councils sometimes
theatre practitioners working with them for one year after that all
rather during that time they have social workers firm and theatre
workers put a play on stage and to help get a job as for example
team working and how to get the job. One of the persons who works
with these groups will give a workshop.
Meeting finished. Saturday 25th Oct. 8:00pm 2014