Storytelling at John Taylor Hospice

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A suitcase full of memories has been helping a storytelling project at a Birmingham Hospice.

Storyteller Wanjiku Nyachae visited John Taylor Hospice with the suitcase containing objects including perfume bottles, toys and photographs. Then she asked Day Hospice visitors to create stories around the items.

The visit was part of a project with Birmingham Repertory Theatre earlier in the Autumn, aiming to encourage people to discuss their life stories and take theatre to communities across the city.

It tied in with the theatre’s production of Solomon and Marion, which featured Dame Janet Suzman as a woman looking back on her own life.

And, as part of the project, visitors and staff from John Taylor’s Day Hospice were invited to see a matinee of the production at the theatre in Centenary Square.

The Rep is the current Arts Champion for Erdington which sees it creating a number of theatre activities in the local community in partnership with Erdington Arts Forum.

The Rep associate director Steve Ball said: “The project has provided us with a wonderful opportunity to  combine participatory  arts with world class performance. We are delighted to have been able to do this in Erdington, the district where we are the designated Arts Champion.”

The Solomon and Marion project also visited four residential care settings – Baughan House and Sycamore Lodge in Erdington and The Perry Tree Centre and Warren Farm Lodge in Kingstanding.

Wanjiku said: “What we were doing was constructing a story together from the photos and box full of memories. Together we have created a complete background to the play that looks back in time and traces the steps of a character to the present day.”

John Taylor Hospice artist-in-residence Anne Brierley, who works in the Day Hospice, said: “It was great to see so many of our visitors really engaged in the story-telling activities and their visit to The Rep. They enjoyed guessing and creating possible stories about the objects and the people who had owned them.

“The groups enjoy having new speakers and activities. In recent months we have received visits from musicians, craft groups, artists and choirs – and we would always be interested to hear from other groups or individuals who could provide activities.”

For more information on the Hospice see www.johntaylorhospice.org.uk

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