mothers handDoes dementia or Alzheimer’s disease affect you or someone you know? Are you in the early stages of the disease? Are you a caregiver? Sheatre and the Alzheimer Society of Grey-Bruce start work this fall on a new play that will share real-life experiences and fight the stigma connected to dementia – and they invite people from the community to take part in creating and presenting it.

Information sessions about The Dementia Play will be held on Monday, Sept. 14 in Owen Sound and Southampton: in Owen Sound at 11 a.m. at the Active Lifestyles Centre Grey Bruce (McQuay Tannery Building), 1852 3rd Avenue East; and in Southampton at 2 p.m. at the Bruce County Museum, 33 Victoria St. N. All are welcome, but registration is required.

The project will be developed with local people through a series of workshop sessions and rehearsals beginning in September. The workshop locations will be determined based on the participants’ needs. Starting in November, presentations will be given to audiences young and old at selected community groups, schools and community events in Grey-Bruce.

“We are looking for ten seniors and caregivers to participate, though younger people are welcome to join as well,” says project co-facilitator, david sereda. Joan Chandler will join in guiding the group through the creative and presentation process. “No previous acting or singing experience is needed, just be ready to learn new things, meet new friends and have fun while the group collaborates on a meaningful project for others to enjoy and learn from for years to come,” says Chandler.

“I had the privilege and pleasure to be part of a few groups working with Joan Chandler and david sereda,” says Audrey Otter, a past participant with Sheatre. “Volunteers will be getting the benefit of being taught by two professionals. Learning the dialogue is nothing to worry about. Participants share their own stories which become part of the play.” Otter adds that it’s a great way to meet people “who not only share your concerns but are ready to get up and through the play, advise caregivers what to expect and how to cope with dementia.”

The project hits home for Otter. “My first husband had dementia. I really know the message you will be getting across is vitally important. I hope to meet with the folk who volunteer and share my enthusiasm for this worthwhile program.” Otter presented a series of plays for the benefit of seniors including “Bruno and Alice, a Love Story” which pointed out slip and fall dangers in the home, and “Ye Canna Throw Your Granny Off a Bus” that dealt with senior abuse.

For sereda the project is also timely. “Working on the play will give me a chance to learn about positive strategies to cope with dementia, both from participants and the representatives from the Alzheimer Society of Grey-Bruce. My mother is living with dementia and I’m very aware of the stigma surrounding the disease and how that can isolate people and prevent them from seeking support.”

Artistic Director of Sheatre, Joan Chandler, has facilitated the creation of 111 plays over Sheatre’s 30-year history. Chandler and sereda will lead fun and engaging activities that will result in this new play with music. Music is a great way to bring people together, and a powerful way to reach people with Alzheimer’s and dementia. The Alzheimer Society of Grey-Bruce will provide educational background and support to help ensure that the project has a broad reach in the community.

The Dementia Play is the first collaboration between Sheatre, the local award-winning community arts company, and the Alzheimer Society of Grey-Bruce. Senior participants will receive an honourarium and travel expenses will be reimbursed. While performance experience is not required, experience of dementia and/or Alzheimer’s is needed, as well as a desire to help bring this new educational play to life in Grey and Bruce.

All are welcome to learn about the “Dementia Play” at our information sessions: in Owen Sound – Monday, Sept. 14, 11 a.m. at the Active Lifestyles Centre Grey Bruce (McQuay Tannery Building), 1852 3rd Avenue East; in Southampton – Monday, Sept. 14, 2 p.m., Bruce County Museum, 33 Victoria St. N.

For more information and to register for the information session, please contact Joan Chandler at or (ph) 519 534 3039 or Sandra Hong, Public Education Officer at the Alzheimer Society Grey-Bruce, at, (ph) 519-376-7230 or 1-800-265-9013.