How to Get Started
To create a performance of To Whom I May Concern in your community you need four things:
- Performers: Women and men with Alzheimer’s or a related illness who form a Sharing Group to share their stories about their experience of living with dementia. While an existing support group is a perfect fit, you can create a new group with the TWIMC project as its first activity.
- A Trained Facilitator: Work with the Sharing Group to gather stories and create a script that will be read by Sharing Group members before a live audience. One of our staff can join your group as facilitator, either in person or via Zoom video conferencing, or you can become a trained facilitator.
- Audience: Care partners, family, friends, professionals, and community members – anyone interested in understanding progressive brain illness and its impact on individuals, families and the community.
- Stage: To Whom I May Concern has found stages in auditoriums, churches, libraries, assisted living facilities and community centers. As long as there are enough seats for the audience and a good sound system for the performers, the show can go on!
One of our staff can help you with all the details of finding a place to perform, inviting an audience and facilitating a lively conversation that concludes every performance.
The group performs the play as a scripted reading before a live audience of care partners, families, friends, peers, and professionals. TWIMC groups have performed in churches, synagogues, community centers, senior centers, and public auditoriums; any setting will work, as long there is a good sound system and room for the audience. We rehearse the script several times in front of the other group members, and on stage where the performance will occur. Some focus group members choose not to be part of the performance, but will join in the dialog after the play. The set is simple. No props are needed, however some groups have used desks to highlight the letter-writing theme, or worn purple to highlight Alzheimer’s. When the stage is set and the curtain goes up (symbolically), the focus is on the person with dementia. This is their moment to speak. Every audience to date has been moved deeply. They have never had the experience of listening to a person with dementia. The performance generally takes 35-40 minutes and is followed by a Talk-Back session.
The Talk-back session is the unscripted part of the performance. The performers, and focus group members who have now joined them on stage, invite questions and comments from the audience. During past Talk-back sessions, spouses have shared pride in the courage displayed by their loved ones; professionals have been brought to tears as they acknowledge their deeper understanding about what the person with dementia experiences; peers with the same diagnosis thank the performers for telling stories that mirror their own.