Dementia play returns to Forest Gate next Saturday

Narinder Singh and Santosh Behl in Dementia's Journey, which returns to Newham after a successful ru

Narinder Singh and Santosh Behl in Dementia's Journey, which returns to Newham after a successful run in May. Photo: Kenrick Waldron - Credit: Archant

A play remembering the “hidden” illness of dementia is returning to the borough this weekend after a hugely successful run earlier in the year.

Commissioned by Newham based charity Ekta last year, the lottery-funded project explores the difficult and misunderstood illness, and its impact on those who live with it.

“The response has been amazing,” said Beckton playwright and teacher James Kenworth, who was commissioned by the charity to write and direct the play.

“Dementia has been a bit hidden, there’s a lot of stigma around it, and the play is to raise awareness of the illness,” said the 52-year-old, who has lived and worked in the borough for the past 25 years.

The play won particular praise from health professionals and those with experience of dementia for its sensitive depiction of the illness, which can render even the easiest tasks an impossibility as memory and other thinking skills deterioriate.

“The research I did was amazingly helpful,” said the Warwall resident.

“Ekta arranged for me to spend an afternoon at a dementia cafe, where there were so many people who all have various forms of dementia and behave very differently.”

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The volunteer cast is formed of mature actors, many carers themselves who were interviewed by James in the course of his research.

“I’ve done a number of plays in all sorts of areas, but I felt a particularly responsibility to get this right. If it didn’t ring true, you’d let a lot of people down.”

The Ekta project aims to bring together groups of isolated, frail and disabled older Asian people in Newham and surrounding boroughs to improve their quality of life through community projects, campaigning, advocacy, social and health care.

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Everyone is welcome to attend the free performance of Dementia’s Journey, which runs at Forest Gate Learning Zone this Saturday, August 15, at 2pm.

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