Improvised theatre at Club

Published: May 06, 2016

“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.

Last fall, 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’s 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.