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Theatre as a Pathway to Health Aging

There is extensive and robust evidence that engagement in meaningful activities, such as participation in the arts, contributes to a wide range of positive health outcomes including personal control, self-esteem, physical health, functional independence, cognitive function and lower mortality rates. Participation also reduces health inequalities, promotes independence and reduces reliance on health services and the cost of providing them. Effectively translating new knowledge we create will improve health and social service practice.

Health and Creative Aging: Theatre as a Pathway to Healthy Aging Janet Fast (PI), David Barnet (Dept of Drama, University of Alberta) and Sally Chivers (Trent University), with funding from a CIHR UK joint intiative (2010-2012) and in partnership with the the GeriActors and Friends and the UK New Dynamics of Ageing (NDA) Ages and Stages research program led by Professor Mim Bernard at Keele University will:

  • examine the archives of the GeriActors and Friends, a Canadian intergenerational theatre company unique in its' uniting of seniors and younger generations through performer-created play development, to document the historic and cultural context of intergenerational participatory theatre and healthy aging

  • interview theatre company members, past and present, to explore the relationship between older adults' participation and leadership in theatrical productions and its effect on their health

  • develop a performer-created play based on research findings

  • determine the best way to collaborate with older adults on research that involves older adults not only as research participants but also as researchers.

Project summary