this is me

New Puppetry Theatre company explore Young Onset Dementia

A brand new puppetry theatre company is exploring the growing phenomenon of Young Onset Dementia in their experimental work this is me. Conceived and created by Foan & Fortune, and supported by Dementia Pathfinders, the project is in its research and development stage and will be presented through a free, open sharing, 6pm Friday 11 October at Metal, Southend-on-Sea.

Foan & Fortune is a year-old theatre company founded and directed by Helen Foan and Marie Fortune and specialising in all forms of creative puppetry. Their expert work can be seen in the lead Elephant in the critically acclaimed ‘Circus 1903’ performed worldwide and at London’s Southbank Centre, and the prestigious British Library’s ‘Shakespeare400 World Book Night’. Their new project, this is me, was one of just eight to be selected as part of the Time and Space Artist Residency programme at Metal, a Southend-based artistic laboratory investing in artistic innovation in the UK. It will be developed from 30 September - 13 October, culminating in a free sharing. 

Helen Foan and Marie Fortune, said: 

“We are incredibly excited and thankful to Metal for giving us this huge vote of confidence in just our first year as a company. It means a lot to us to explore and raise awareness of Young Onset Dementia and create conversations around what can often be an invisible experience. We believe that puppetry is the perfect art form to bring the lived experiences of Young Onset to life. Knowing no boundaries, it is tangible, accessible and compelling. Having worked closely with the Young Onset community we have become increasingly aware of the difficulties they face seeking appropriate support. We are passionate about finding out how the Young Onset community wish to be represented, particularly what they would like people to know and understand about their lived experience. It is important to us that this is me is grown from the roots up and that the direction of the project is set by those it is for. We are very grateful to our partners Dementia Pathfinders: their support and guidance is invaluable.” 

Working age or Young Onset Dementia typically affects 45- to 65-year-olds, although it can also hit people in their early 40s or even late 30s. Most recent figures estimate more than 42,000 people in the UK under the age of 65 are living with this type of dementia. More aggressive than dementia in the old, it dramatically alters the future for those diagnosed and their families at a time when they are still building careers and/or raising children. 

As part of the project, Foan & Fortune will attend the Netpark Wellbeing project at Metal which runs art therapy sessions with local people living with dementia. All their staff are trained as Dementia Friends and their newest app ‘Garden of Remember’ was created by their dementia drop-in service users. 

Dementia Pathfinders are a key partner providing Foan & Fortune with guidance and focus groups to engage with the Young Onset community. Following the sharing on Friday 11 October there will be a Q&A session hosted by Foan & Fortune with Barbara Stephens, Chief Executive of Dementia Pathfinders.

Barbara Stephens, Chief Executive of Dementia Pathfinders, said: 

“We are delighted that Foan & Fortune have chosen to bring the story of Young Onset Dementia into the public light in such an engaging and innovative way. At times along the journey through dementia, it can be hard to find the right path. We want to help map the journey and develop ideas for living well with dementia, particularly in the early stages where little presently is offered. Through supporting Foan & Fortune, we hope to reach more people. We’re delighted to be involved.”

The first sharing of this is me will be on Friday 11 October 6pm at Metal Southend. 


Please RSVP to foanandfortune@gmail.com

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