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Keene

Dementia explored with puppetry

Sandglass Theater will perform “D-Generation: An Exaltation of Larks,” an exploration of dementia using puppetry, in the Redfern Arts Center at Keene State College on March 4, at 7:30 p.m.

A post-show discussion and reception with the artists will follow the performance.

“D-Generation: An Exaltation of Larks” is a full-length theater piece based on stories written collaboratively by groups of people with late-stage dementia. The work features three puppeteers who portray the caregivers and five puppets who are the residents of a care-facility. It includes an original score and animated video segments that attempt to illustrate the experience of a person with dementia. “D-Generation” takes audiences into a world that is both mysterious and all too familiar and heartbreaking for families who know it first-hand.

Sandglass Theater, the puppetry ensemble based in Putney, Vt., gathered stories from people with dementia during numerous visits to care facilities including Holton House in Brattleboro, Vt. People with dementia were guided through a collective story-making method called Timeslips, designed to explore the creative aspects of their brain without worrying about reason or logic.

In conjunction with their performance, Sandglass actors will explain the Timeslips process with students in the KSC Nursing Program during a Feb. 27 class.

Sandglass actors discovered that the debilitating ailment may affect a person’s cognition, but not necessarily their imagination. Their stories reveal a humor, and playfulness, as well as the dark reality of the disease.

“…When we drop the questions, the painstakingly impossible demands to ‘Remember me’ and just allow these people — and ourselves — to live in the moment, there can be joy amidst the sorrow that is dementia,” wrote Danielle Thierry with the Burlington (Vt.) Writers Workshop in a blog following a recent “D-Generation” performance at The Flynn Theater in Burlington.

Sandglass Theater is an internationally-known ensemble theater company specializing in combining puppets with music, actors, and visual imagery. Since 1982, Sandglass has toured its repertoire of award-winning pieces to more than 24 countries, performing in theaters, festivals, and cultural institutions. Sandglass also performs and teaches in its own 60-seat renovated barn theater in Putney.

Tickets are $25 to $13, and $5 for KSC students. To reserve tickets, call the box office at 358-2168 or order online at www.keene.edu/racbp.

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