Official website for Mark C. Hewitt & Blank Productions

Dementia Diaries
LLL Productions
2009 / 2011

Text: Maria Jastrzębska
Directed by Mark C. Hewitt
Incidental music by Peter Copley

Told through the interweaving monologues of an Anglo-Polish family and their Polish carer, Dementia Diaries explores the troubled relationships within a family struggling to cope with dementia. Developed with input from clinicians and nurses based at the Memory Assessment and Research Centre (MARC) in Southampton, this sequence of prose poetry monologues for five voices and live music combines tenderness and despair with moments of surreal humour and occasional strong language. 

DD poster Klimowski
Poster art © Andrzej Klimowski, 2009


Directed by Mark C. Hewitt for LLL Productions with direction by Mark C. Hewitt, Dementia Diaries by Maria Jastrzębska was first performed over a run of four nights in April 2009 at the Little Polka Café, Eastbourne. The work consists of interweaving monologues for five performers, with ncidental music by composer Peter Copley, played live by the composer (cello) and Anne Hodgson (flutes). A follow-up performance was given in September 2009 at the Artisan Polish restaurant (as was) in Lewes, East Sussex.

In a second phase of R&D, supported by a Wellcome Trust Arts Award, the production was further developed at The Nuffield Theatre, Southampton. The grant from the Wellcome Trust allowed a creative interaction with research clinicians, nurses, therapists and doctors based at the Memory Assessment and Research Centre (MARC) in Southampton with a view to enhancing the authenticity of the production and supplying up-to-date research information about dementia for the printed programme. The rehearsal process culminated in a run of performances in The Nuffield Studio, followed by a UK tour to university Schools of Medicine and small-scale theatre venues.

The Cast
2009 Eastbourne cast: Daisy Whyte (Daughter), Anna Korwin (Mama), Julia Krynke (Mrs Alicja), Sam Booth (Edzio) and Piotr Baumann (Tata). At the Lewes performance, Daughter was played by Nicky Blackwell, Mrs Alicja by Stamatina Papamichali and Tata by Christopher Ettridge.
2011 tour cast additionally involved Laura Freeman (Daughter), Agnieszka Korzuszek (Mrs Alicja) and Tim Barlow (Papa).

See the YouTube film: Dementia Diaries in Edinburgh »
Read the article by John O'Donoghue from The Guardian »

Rehearsals with Tim Barlow (Tata) and Anna Korwin (Mama). Photo © Southampton Echo

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Above: Daisy Whyte as Daughter / Tim Barlow as Tata. Photos by Candida Lucca

• "Dementia has protean manifestations affecting sufferers and carers very differently. This play wonderfully portrays how our own circumstances and fears for the future interact with our personal relationship with the sufferer. Through the use of multiple monologues it emphasises, through sensitive and realistic performances, the many levels at which this disease inhabits us - not just as patients but as family and professional and non-professional carers." (Dr David Wilkinson, Consultant in Old Age Psychiatry / Director of MARC, Southampton)
• "What a great play! It was great to see such an accurate portrayal of the stresses that can develop when someone is living with dementia, conveying the complex feelings and emotions involved." (Lisa Gatward, Alzheimer's Society)
• “Dementia Diaries was a moving experience ... The drama was intensified by the musical score which beautifully wove the stories together and gave the evening a reflective quality that drew you into this world. Even if you had no experience of dementia, you would be under no illusions of what the impact can be to families and communities by the end of the evening.” (Katie Tearle, Head of Education, Glyndebourne Opera)

• "Dementia Diaries was marvellous - I would recommend it - touching, sad, funny and thought provoking. Brilliant script, direction and acting. Absolutely fantastic, I am so impressed."
• "Saw the play yesterday in Hammersmith and thought is was an amazing piece of work; the acting, monologues, music and direction were a triumph."

Hear the music »

More about the production »

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Above: Stamatina Papamichali as Mrs Alicja

Tour 2011

• 31 Jan - 2 Feb: Nuffield Theatre, Southampton
• 20 March: Jazz Café POSK, Hammersmith, London
(Hosted by Grupa Literacka KaMPe, Union of Polish Writers Abroad)
• 4 April: St Bartholomew's Hospital, London
• 5/6 April: Adam House Theatre, Edinburgh
(Hosted by University of Edinburgh Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology, see video)
• 3 May: Leggate Theatre, University of Liverpool
(Hosted by University of Liverpool School of Health Sciences)
• 4 May: The Medical School, Royal Derby Hospital
• 12-14 July: Rosemary Branch Theatre, London
• 19 October: Sallis Benney Theatre, University of Brighton
(Hosted by Brighton & Sussex Medical School)
• 26 October: Reardon-Smith Theatre, National Museum Cardiff
(Hosted by School of Nursing & Midwifery Studies and School of Medicine, Cardiff University)

Artisan poster low

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