Mark Metcalf

The Penelope Project

By - Jan 27th, 2011 04:00 am
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Anne Basting monitoring acting students presenting stories to senior citizens at Luther Manor as part of the Penelope Project.

Over the last month, I’ve spoken with caregivers, doctors, and advocates all working toward better understanding and coping with Alzheimer’s Disease. Through these conversations, I was connected with Anne Basting, Director of UWM’s Center on Age & Community (CAC), who is also an Associate Professor of Theatre at the Peck School of the Arts.

Basting is known for her work through the CAC, using research and innovation to improve quality of life as we age, but she also developed The Penelope Project, an interactive art and theatre production that uses the story of Penelope — the queen from Homer’s Odyssey — to help engage the long-term care community in the creative process, and to remove some of the fear and isolation associated with aging and senior care.

“[We’re] using the story of Penelope to inspire, and improve the quality of life of people who work, visit, and live at Luther Manor,” says Basting.

A collaboration between the CAC, the UWM Theatre Department, Luther Manor and Sojourn Theatre, Penelope is a multi-tiered project that’s been developed over the past three years. Students, professional actors, caregivers and the staff and residents of Luther Manor have spent a year researching the story of Penelope, making connections to daily life, and exploring that tale through song and dance.

The project culminates with the performance of Finding Penelope, a professionally produced play that will take place entirely within the facilities at Luther Manor.

Listen to my conversation with Anne Basting to learn more:

(Windows Media Player)


You can follow the progress on the Penelope Project blog, or by visiting the CAC online. Subscribe to Backstage with Mark Metcalf through iTunes here.

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