At ninety two Mary was reluctant to join the dramatherapy group as she had attended the day centre for many years and thought she knew the members of the day centre well. Mary listened to the dramatherapists explaining how the group would work, meeting every Wednesday afternoon at the same time using drama techniques to work together creatively. The dramatherapists would then keep a record of what was done each week by putting some of what was shared in a book which would travel with the dramatherapists every week.
Mary seemed interested in creating a book and sharing her feelings. When answering the questions for the evaluation Mary was more than happy to tell the dramatherapist how she felt and that yes she was sometimes lonely since her husband had died five years ago.
The group started with a way of saying hello and a physical warm-up with a large piece of elastic, saying what dancing we enjoyed or not. Mary told us of the ballroom dancing she had enjoyed and where she had been dancing. This led us on to talk about how the buildings in the town had changed and how what was once the ballroom dancing venue was now a multi screen cinema complex. This was where she had met her husband and before we knew it we were talking about family and what that meant for each of the group members. The cushion was passed round to allow group members to know whose turn it was to talk and as a reminder to know who to listen to.
At the end of the first session the group were invited to say one thing they wanted to say about the dramatherapy today and Mary’s comment was that although she had known another group member for about ten years she had learnt more about her in this first group than in all those years!
Mary continued to come to the dramatherapy and she made more connections with the other group members in the dramatherapy sessions, as the group travelled around their life stories. The themes that created the most conversation and stirred most memories to explore and work creatively with were:
Relationships – from siblings through to pets and back to their parents and becoming parents themselves.
Loss – everybody had experienced death in some way and wanted to talk about it.
Jobs – Such a variety of jobs but the common theme was outrage at women having to give up their jobs when they got married, which was normal for most of the women in the group. We also talked about the war and how jobs were available to women that previously had not been allowed.
Entertainment – favourite songs, theatres and cinemas.
One week the group discovered that two members had been brought up in orphanages, one in India and one in England. The following week the dramatherapists brought in a large map and pinpointed across the world where everyone had been born or had travelled to.
The book was filled with some of these journeys, catching a tiny snippet of the group members’ lives and putting it in the book for their enjoyment and delight, and for prosterity.
* All names have been changed to protect the identity of our clients.
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