Mind the Gap Performance, March 2017. Image: Byron Gallagher
One of the things Salisbury Playhouse tries to do is provide opportunities for everyone in the community to experience theatre and the pleasure that it brings.
Our theatre group for the over 60s, Mind the Gap, supports our remit of putting the key priorities of our local authority Wiltshire Council at the heart of our work. To help Wiltshire Council fulfil its key priority of inclusivity, we aim to provide opportunities for people of all ages and abilities.
Mind the Gap meets weekly at Salisbury Playhouse for a variety of theatre-based workshops. The group has been running for 10 years and has staged a variety of projects from street theatre to performances in The Salberg studio space. Mind the Gap has also collaborated with the Salisbury Playhouse Youth Theatre, Stage 65.
They really are a very engaged and committed group of people and it’s a pleasure to see them coming in every week.
Recently, members of Mind the Gap recorded a radio play – written by Roland Challis, the oldest member of the group – with students of Wiltshire College. Music students at the college are using the project as work experience. It has been a great example of different members of the community working together.
I talked to Roland briefly about his play. He says a radio play is perfectly suited to a drama group of older members as it can be performed script in hand, without the need for memorising lines. Actors obviously aren’t seen so can play younger parts.
He had written the play some years earlier, after a career at the BBC as a foreign correspondent and, latterly, heading writing departments.
The play is a romantic tragedy, with three principal characters. Roland wouldn’t give away the plot but says “it’s a sad story”.
With sound effects yet to be added, the play will be available on the Salisbury Playhouse website in the New Year.
It will showcase the work of a group that is vital to Salisbury Playhouse’s determination to harbour all members of the community and help Wiltshire Council with its inclusivity goal.
Earlier in 2017, in March, Mind the Gap performed a special production at two locations in Salisbury: Salisbury Medical Practice and a local care home Gracewell Salisbury Manor.
The production, At the End of the Pier, was a lively, entertaining performance with drama, music, singing and dancing.
It was full of funny sketches, including fortune tellers, carousels, Punch and Judy and, of course, visits from those pesky seagulls who want your chips!
After being performed to us staff, the production was performed to invited audiences at the medical centre and care home and was particularly tailored to be enjoyed by people living with dementia and their carers.
Katy Gillingham, Health Promotion Assistant at Salisbury Medical Practice, said, “We were really excited to host the Mind the Gap performance of ‘At the End of the Pier’. It was a great opportunity for patients to see something different and exciting, in an environment they are familiar with. We hope to host more events like this in the future.”
The End of the Pier show is another example of the inclusivity that Salisbury Playhouse aims to foster with its work, both inside the theatre and outside the theatre building.
Our latest local authority case study explores how Salisbury Playhouse are building strong links with their local authority through a time of great change. UK Theatre members can read all of our Working with Local Authorities Case Studies here.