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Developing mental health, physical well-being and socio-cultural participation in older people through theatre


At present, the ageing of the population increasingly requires the development of practices to promote and support the maintenance of the autonomy and health of the elderly.
In 2019 the Accademia Dimitri launched the project "Teatro Benessere Anziani. Develop mental health, physical well-being and sociocultural participation in older people through theater", coordinated by Demis Quadri and Veronica Provenzale, in collaboration with the Department of Business Economics Health and Social-DEASS (social and health areas) of SUPSI.
The main objective of the programme was to develop theatrical and artistic practices aimed at supporting the autonomy and well-being of the elderly involved, but also to promote a more valuable and dynamic image of the elderly, showing the influence that such actions can have for a cultural change in the perception of the elderly. Theatre is a living art of communication and expression: through theatrical activity it is possible to listen and voice each participant, to create links between people, to seek different and shared points of view, to generate joy and fun. Theatrical and artistic activities are therefore truly effective practices for the development of psychic health, physical well-being and social participation of individuals of all ages, backgrounds and backgrounds - in this case older people.

Thanks to the competition of all and all, it was possible to organize a pilot phase of four theatrical workshops, set up at the day centres integrated in the Tertianum facilities in Bellinzona and Tenero, in the Onsernonese Social Centre of Russo and in the San Donato di Intragna Regional Elderly Home. During the workshops - led in 2020 by the actor Daniele Bianco (unfortunately interrupted due to the pandemic of covid-21) and then resumed in 2022 with the actresses Anna Kiskanç and Camilla Stanga - the different groups of participants were involved in exercises and theater games, moments of imagination and narration, and also in the composition of small theatrical scenes, which were alternated during the weekly meetings in the respective venues. As confirmed by the findings of and participants in the laboratories, and by managers and staff of the centers involved, the effects of the laboratories have generally been very positive and the activities have generated real feedback in terms of activation and imagination, as well as involvement and joy, and therefore increased well-being.
On the basis of these results, thanks to the skills developed in the project and the involvement of the institutions, the Dimitri Academy is already working on the development of a stable service for the territory, which allows interested bodies and institutions (day care centres, elderly homes, etc.) to host theatre workshops to foster the well-being of non institutionalised elderly people and, to a lesser extent, residents.

The photographic exhibitions
In addition to the theatrical workshops, thanks to the collaboration with the photographer Reza Khatir, the Accademia Dimitri has developed a parallel artistic project, aimed not so much to document the activities as to give added value, obtained through the filter of an additional artistic medium such as photography.
From week to week, Reza Khatir followed the theatrical activities in the different venues, capturing with his shots the sharing of exercises and movements, creative and playful moments, expressive gestures and flashes of inspiration and hilarity, born during the collective practices. At the same time, Khatir focused on the individual participants, highlighting through his portraits the personality, the experience and the strength of each and every one, escaping stereotypes and images of the "elderly", to return to the individual in its totality and fullness.
The portraits and scenes captured during the workshops are now gathered in four photographic exhibitions, curated by Veronica Provenzale for the Accademia Dimitri and by Khatir himself, set up in the four locations where the workshops took place. In addition to witnessing the meeting and sharing that took place during the workshops and encouraging the dissemination and multiplication of the experience, the hope is that these photographic exhibitions can help to promote a more valuable image, of the elderly.

Design: Prof. Demis Quadri
Women’s viewfinder: Veronica Provenzale
Theatre trainers: Daniele Bianco, Anna Kiskanç, Camilla Stanga

The Elderly Wellness Theatre project was carried out with the support of the cantonal action programme Health Promotion Switzerland and the Oertli Foundation, as well as with the support of the Health Promotion and Assessment Service (SPVS)and the participating municipalities.

The photo exhibitions:
"The welfare of the elderly through art"

Opening: 17 November 2022 - 15 December 2022
Thursday-Friday-Saturday 14.00-16.00
For information activate the Russian CSO 091.785.05.16

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