Over the past year the Royal Exchange Theatre has been considering the impact of dementia on people's lives and will be running free public information sessions in May.

For the past year the Royal Exchange has been actively considering the impact dementia can have on people’s lives. Relaxed Performances, which began last year at the theatre, have been attended by people living with dementia who might benefit from a more relaxed atmosphere in which to experience a play and staff members are fast becoming part of the Dementia Friends network. 


KING LEAR, which has just finished playing on our main stage, thrilling audiences and critics alike, is a play which can be perceived to address issues surrounding dementia. Leading actor Don Warrington, whose performance of the fading King has been celebrated, talked openly in a recent article for The Times about how his own mother’s dementia had influenced his reading of Lear. He talked about the impact his mother’s dementia had on him, and his family, and how this experience had led him to consider if Lear is living with dementia during the events of the play.

This was a reading that critics also recognised, Kate Bassett commented in her review for The Times …his Lear looks like a grizzled bruiser…His slide into powerlessness and dementia thereafter is strikingly captured by Warrington’Of his own experiences on recognising his mother’s dementia Warrington said ‘It can’t be true, but it just might be. And then it was’.

People and families live with dementia everyday and we are incredibly proud that over 100 staff and volunteers have attended special Dementia Friends Information sessions. Staff from Box Office and Front of House staff to Heads of Departments and our Production teams as well as volunteers and members of our resident Young and Elders Companies, have attended sessions.

These sessions are part of a wider initiative led by the Alzheimer’s Society to help raise awareness and greater understanding about what it means to have dementia. During the sessions, participants learn more about the ways dementia can impact a person’s life and crucially the small ways we can all help to make our communities more Dementia Friendly.

By the end of last month (March 2016), the Alzheimer’s Society reached a milestone of creating 1.5 million Dementia Friends in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Charlotte Adams, Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Friends Regional Support Officer said:

‘Alzheimer’s Society is delighted that Manchester’s iconic Royal Exchange Theatre is helping to create more Dementia Friends in Greater Manchester where there are estimated to be 29,739 people living with dementia. If theatre’s like the Royal Exchange can support and make it accessible for people with dementia to watch plays and visit the theatre then Alzheimer’s Society fully support this’

In May, as part of Dementia Awareness Week the theatre is hosting three public Dementia Friends Information sessions. Andy Barry, the Theatre's Adults Programme Leader and a Dementia Friends Champion, will lead an informative and interactive session helping attendees to understand more about what it's like to live with dementia.

The sessions will be held on Tuesday 17 MayWednesday 18 May and Thursday 19 May.  Book tickets online or via the Box Office on 0161 833 9833.

Our next Relaxed Performance is for THE MIGHTY WALZER on Tuesday 26 July at 2:30pm. To book tickets…

SOCIAL MEDIA: @DementiaFriends @CharlotteRSO @andybarrytalk