Improvisation at Club 36
I don't know what I'd do without Club 36! It really gives me the break I need to be able to keep him at home a little longer.
As a first step towards acceptance of the changes in my husband [after his diagnosis] I made a phone call to the Alzheimer’s Society of Calgary to sign up for a course. After explaining my intent, and before anything else was said, the person on the other end of the phone asked, “How are you doing?” So unexpected, so sincere, so compassionate, so moving. We chatted for a long time.
Improv theatre at Club 36
“Anything can happen if you let it.” – Mary Poppins
Much like the imagination of Mary Poppins, anything can happen in improv if you let it. The team from Verb Theatre Calgary has partnered with the Club 36 Adult Day program after a successful improv (improvised theatre) pilot project.
Several years ago, they approached the Alzheimer Society of Calgary to test a six-week pilot program with people living with dementia. Col, Karen and Laura worked together to develop a program focused on the healing power of improv for people living with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.
“It is confidence building, risk taking, physical activity and they’re not going to hear ‘no we can’t do that’,” says Karen facilitator. “Instead, it’s we’re all going to do it together and it becomes a shared experience.”
The key to the empowering program is that improv requires zero preparation or memorization. It’s about playing, going with the flow and being in the moment. Club members were initially cautious but soon came to let go and enjoy the process. Over the six weeks, trust was built and laughter filled the room.
“The program is based on the simple idea of taking improv exercises and games and leading Calgarians with dementia through them. The goal is to bring an hour of laughter, joy, and creativity into the lives of folks who are dealing with a difficult part of their life and to do it in a way that sets them up for success,” says Col, facilitator.
The program that plays to their strengths and identifies them as really creative, intelligent people. For an hour, everything said is accepted, celebrated and constructed and built on what is being said and done.
Reaching out to people at the Alzheimer Society of Calgary saved my life. They really understood, and didn’t judge me."