Finding Joy in Newbury

This November, Vamos Theatre are bringing their acclaimed show, Finding Joy to our stage. Our Director Grant tells us why he will never forget the first time he saw the show, and why he has seen it at least five separate time since...

When I first saw Vamos Theatre’s Finding Joy in February 2013, I knew this was going to be a performance I would never forget and although it is now over 4 years since I first saw it, I’ve seen it on at least, 5 more occasions since. Inevitably the next time I see it will be in November when the company visit the Corn Exchange.

As someone who sits in the theatre on a very regular basis, I know all too well that the audience are experiencing the same thing but each individually responding to it. Finding Joy  epitomises that very unique feeling that you only get by visiting a theatre and being part of a wider audience who is having a personal response to a beautiful story. Finding Joy made me laugh. It made me cry. It was, on the deepest level, an honest, human story that resonated with us all. It was, quite simply, one of those unforgettable moments.

We watched Joy’s health deteriorate in front of our eyes. Her world was confusing, abstract and unfamiliar. Her daughter, clearly struggling to manage, didn’t know where to turn but fortunately Danny, Joy’s teenage grandson, offers to help.

Whilst Danny’s a rogue, he’s also playful and accepting. He and Joy live in the moment together and whatever Danny does, Joy does too. Their relationship is beautiful and there are moments of genuine joy and happiness. It's a grandmother and her grandson enjoying each other’s time and that was simply lovely. Their bond is unbreakable and their love for each other is limitless.

It is fair to say before I saw the production, I knew very little about dementia. I now understand that I saw it in a one-dimensional level, but Finding Joy has been so beautifully created and with such integrity that it unpicks the complexity of dementia, and Rachael Savage (Artistic Director for Vamos Theatre) has created an extremely important piece of theatre. So much so, that the company have developed a training programme to support organisations such as the NHS to learn more about the condition and how to care for those with dementia.

Aside from the show, what you might not be aware of is that over the last few months, we’ve been part of a national project with six other arts centres and theatres. Vamos have been to Newbury to deliver Sharing Joy, an interactive performance for older people with dementia in two care homes locally, and in November the company will deliver their workshop programme, Listening With Your Eyes. This is primarily for carers and will help them in using arts and play in their day-to-day work. It is also for people working in customer facing roles in our community, who might benefit from knowing a little bit more about working with people with dementia on a daily basis. It has proven to be an invaluable tool to provide person-centred care and I’m proud that we’ve been able to bring this whole package to Newbury this year. If you are interested in finding out more about Listening With Your Eyes please emailgetinvolved@cornexchangenew.co.uk.

I hope that I’ll see you at one of the performances of Finding Joy  in November and I look forward to hearing your response to it.