We Perform Robin Hood at Clare House For Christmas
Take Your SEAT performed a special, shortened version of their pantomime, Robin Hood the Panto, for the residents of Clare House Care home in Silverstone on Sunday afternoon 20th December.
Director, Keith Watts's mother was a resident in Clare House, suffering with Alzheimer's and therefore Keith regularly visited. One of the senior carers knew about Keith’s panto productions in Syresham and asked if he could organise a show in the care home for the residents, their relatives and the carers. After discussions with the cast and backstage crew, they all decided it would be a great idea to entertain the dementia patients at Christmas!
When Take Your SEAT perform Robin Hood the Panto at Syresham Village hall in Mid-February, the show is just under two hours, which is too long for the residents with dementia and so the panto was edited down to 45 minutes.
The project was certainly a challenge! The Clare House dining room became the theatre, with a stage approximately a quarter of the area the actors normally perform on.
To get used to it ... the cast rehearsed for a month on the new confined stage, marked out with chairs.
The logistics of putting on Robin Hood needed to be precise. The lights and sound had to be rigged in the morning to fit in with the resident’s lunchtime.
Six LED theatre lights were put up, a backdrop hung up to hide the serving hatch and a sound system rigged for sound effects and music. A smaller room next to the dining room became the backstage and holding area.
The cast and backstage staff amount to about 30 people, of all ages from 8 to over 60 and all had to be transported in a convoy of cars to Clare House, after having their make-up and costumes put on at Syresham Sports & Social Club. Once transported, they all crept into Clare House via a back entrance and hid in a conservatory until the residents, their relatives and the many carers, were seated in the dining room.
Then … the show began! It started with a lively dance routine, based upon Diversity. The audience loved it!
As the panto went on, the residents soon remembered all the panto elements of ‘booing’ the Sheriff of Nottingham, shouting ‘behind you!’ at the Dame and singing along to the various songs, including a professional ladies Barbershop Quartet, who sung Love Me Tender to a duet dance. At the end they all sang Carols along with the cast ... finishing with White Christmas.
The residents thoroughly enjoyed Robin Hood the Panto and the Carers explained that it was so good to see the residents react so positively to the show, bearing in mind their dementia. They certainly remembered how to interact with the cast on stage, with several of them heckling the Dame!
One resident lady, rarely opens her eyes during the day due to her dementia, but the carers were amazed when she watched the whole show … eyes open!
All the cast and backstage crew, thoroughly enjoyed the experience and there is no doubt that when dementia patients are stimulated by something they know and love, they will respond positively … and THAT ... is what makes all the effort ... worthwhile!