Puppets portray Alzheimer’s patients in free JMKAC production

Sandglass Theater will perform D-Generation: An Exaltation of Larks, a full-length theater piece about joy, play and communication—and about dementia— April 16 and 17 at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center.

D-Generation is based on stories told by people with latestage dementia. These stories reveal a humor, and playfulness, as well as the dark reality of the disease. “The idea of sensitively portraying Alzheimer’s patients with puppets proved inspired,” said the Hub Review of Boston.

Set to a compelling origi- nal score and striking animated video segments, the work is performed by three puppeteers (the caregivers) and five puppets (the residents of a care-facility). “DGeneration takes us into a world that is all too much a part of our lives,” said Jen Balge, education specialist at the Arts Center.

Performances are at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on April 16, and at 7:30 p.m. on April 17. Admission is free but seating is limited and tickets are required. Call the Arts Center at 920-458-6144 or visit www.jmkac.org (click on Learn/Explore). The Arts Center is located at 608 New York Ave. in downtown Sheboygan.

D-Generation explores the rich creativity and the ability to communicate that exists in people with late-stage dementia. Their words, their images and their imaginations, yield poetic, humorous, and quite mysterious stories.

Sandglass Theater formed scenes of the inner life of the characters in these stories for DGeneration.

The result is a theater piece that reflects both the stigma and the acceptance, the despair and the joy, that is equally present and possible, in both the person with dementia and in their caregivers and family members.

The stories were gathered by Sandglass Theater’s performers during visits to care facilities, when groups of people with dementia were guided through a collective story–making method called TimeSlips.

The TimeSlips method was created by the director of University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Center on Aging and Community, Anne Basting. As an educator, scholar, and artist, Basting’s work focuses on the potential for the arts and humanities to improve quality of life.

Sandglass Theater’s D-Generation: An Exaltation of Larks is funded in part by the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Theater Project, with lead funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

This residency is made possible in part by support from the Helen Bader Foundation and the Performance Residency Program of National Performance Network (a partner of the Arts Center) with major contributions from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Ford Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

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