Playhouse to celebrate Arts and the elderly

Tullyally Cosy Club.
Tullyally Cosy Club.

Sixty older people from local rural areas will share stories and reminisces at a creative arts and digital multi-media celebration showcase in Derry later this month.

An exhibition and performance of work from The Playhouse Arts and Older People’s Programme will be held at The Playhouse, Artillery Street, on Thursday, March 19, to mark ‘Arts & Elders’ festival month.

For the programme, rural community groups for the over 65s were invited to participate in digital multi media, visual arts, music and creative writing.

Groups involved in the programme include Tullyally Cosy Club, Faughanvale Community Project, Sion Mills Community Forum, Eglinton Community Centre, Strabane Community Project and The Plum Club, Plumbridge.

Tullyally Cosy Club have created artwork and given literary expression to their past through creative writing. while Faughanvale Community Project have used music to sing some of their own compositions and have created a film during multi media workshops.

Sion Mills Community Forum have created artwork, written stories and poetry, and, through music, have recorded a song with Sion Mills Primary School about the famous Herdman’s Mill. The song includes inspiration from Tom (a member of the group) who turned out the lights for the last time when the mill closed. The wicket keeper Ossie Colhoun, of the famous Ireland cricket team that beat the West Indies, is also among the many group members sharing and celebrating their stories during this special programme.

The Plum Club also joined Strabane Community Project to participate in music and creative writing, and Eglinton Community Centre participated in digital multi media and are creating quality pieces in crochet in their visual arts workshops.

Over 60 of the programme’s participants will showcase their achievements at a special lunchtime event at The Playhouse on Thursday, March 19, and will be joined by musician and facilitator Roy Arbuckle as MC and Sion Mills Primary School Choir who will perform at the event.

Project Co-ordinator at The Playhouse, Ann Marie Thompson, said: “The aim of this programme is to improve health, confidence, esteem and emotional well-being, but it was also about tapping into a very rich and very deep well of talent, bringing out the artist, musician, the writer in those who have, maybe, never had a chance to express themselves through the Arts.

“We’re heard incredible stories, from a lady who lived through the Blitz to a lady who lost many family members in the Arranmore lifeboat disaster.

“In the UK, the percentage of the population aged 65 and above has increased from 15%, in 1984, to 16%, in 2009 - an increase of 1.7 million people.

“Although people are living longer, older people face a number of particular life challenges that threaten their health and wellbeing so I believe that getting out to older people in their communities, reaching out to them and using the creative arts as a means to help them express themselves and tell their stories is so important.

“The Playhouse has had a long, fruitful creative history with this area’s older population and we’re delighted now to mark that relationship by creating an event of celebration, music and every type of art!”

The programme will culminate during ‘Arts & Elders’ festival month with participating groups hosting a lunchtime exhibition and showcase on March 19 in The Playhouse.

For more information about The Playhouse Arts and Older People’s Programme, visit www.derryplayhouse.co.uk.