Cracked: new light on dementia follows Elaine Carter’s journey from her diagnosis through to her new life in a long-term care home. Elaine and her children, Caroline and Clay, grapple with what the diagnosis means, if and how the diagnosis changes their relationships and how they struggle to be with each other in the present where Elaine calls them to be. Filled with poignancy, honesty and humour, this play brings to the fore the richness of the social world of dementia and encourages audiences to see the humanity of persons who are living with dementia.
The play is an innovative research-based theatre production that casts a critical light on society’s one-dimensional view of dementia as an unmitigated tragedy. The play raises questions about the predominant discourse of loss that defines current conceptions of dementia, and the dehumanizing care practices that still prevail in institutional care settings. Inspired in part by Leonard Cohen’s words in Anthem, the play is intended to inspire alternative ways of seeing persons with dementia, instill the importance of maintaining strong relationships with them, and reinforce the imperative for good ethical care.
The play is based on research conducted by Drs. Sherry Dupuis, Gail Mitchell, Pia Kontos, and Christine Jonas-Simpson, all of whom are health researchers who specialize in the areas of aging, dementia, and research-based drama as a powerful catalyst for culture change. Developed collaboratively with a group of artists, persons with dementia, and their families Cracked is grounded in the idea that relationships must be front and centre when providing care for persons with dementia, memory in all of its forms must be valorized, self-expression must be nurtured, and the humanity of those who are living with dementia must be fully supported. Video created by Anthony Grani.