The Dot Collective was formed in 2016 to provide innovative theatre of a high, professional standard that’s accessible and cognitively stimulating for those living in care, particularly those living with dementia.
We facilitate sensory activities and professional theatre that create in-the-moment joyful experiences, reconnecting people with their history, uniting families, reducing isolation and improving the provision of creative activities and ultimately, improving the quality of life in care.
We tour professional productions that pop up in the living rooms, dining rooms and gardens of residential care, as well as providing accessible, dementia friendly theatre performances for dementia peer groups, cafes and assisted living. With a professional team, we transform spaces, immersing our audiences into the world of the play bringing the aesthetics that one would expect when going to the theatre. Our theatrical, storytelling workshops link those in care with creative professionals to write new plays inspired by the memories of our participants, getting their voice heard and raising a positive awareness of dementia through the arts.
The Dot Collective has established strong relationships with care providers across the country including The Alzheimer's Society (nationwide), Link Age Southwark, Anchor care, BUPA care, Care UK, Age UK, AXA Healthcare, Dementia Action Alliances Brighton & Hove, Southwark, Lewes, and other local authority care centres.
Who's behind the 'DOT'?
The Dot Collective was founded in memory of my grandmother, Dorothy Harling (Dot, Rasha Nan), who was in need of constant care and moved into a care home in East Sussex. It was a brilliant care home, with a variety of activities. However there wasn’t anything available such as an event like theatre, at least not often enough or to a professional standard. She rapidly deteriorated in the care environment, and I couldn’t help but think that her life would have been more fruitful, and her mental health improved, if there had been a better social environment and more stimulating, joyful activities.
One day, when I went to visit Rasha Nan, she asked me what I was up to. I told her that I was performing at a London Theatre. Nan said, ‘I wish I could see you do that’. I really wish that she could have seen it too. It was this conversation that started our charity, The Dot Collective.
We planned our first touring production for that Christmas (2015). Unfortunately Nan passed away a week before the play toured (typical!) However, from the expression on her face at the thought of the idea, and the fact she spent the last weeks of her life telling the carers about how her Granddaughter was going to bring the best show they would ever see (pressure!), it was worth it. That Christmas was brilliant because of that tour. Meeting generations of families sat together in the care environment, it was clear that this work is of great importance, for anyone who is unable to get out to do the things they once enjoyed. Six years later, we're better informed but still learning every day to bring these experiences to as many people as possible.
Laura Harling - Artistic Director
Laura Harling - Artistic Director
Laura received a BA Hons in Fine Art at Kingston University before training as an actor at Drama Studio London. As a producer, Laura launched First Draft theatre in 2010, supporting emerging playwrights to develop and produce their work. She has since produced over 30 productions including Brainville at Night (Old Red Lion) written by former carer Alexander Moschos and short play festival April Showers. Laura acknowledged a need for professional theatre in care environments and collaborated with Open Book Theatre in December 2015 touring a production of The Snow Queen (December 2015). In September 2016 she produced a second tour of this kind, A Midsummer Night's Dream. Due to the success of these productions, Laura established charity The Dot Collective and produces summer and Christmas care home tours annually alongside new writing projects with dementia peer groups including One Hundred Trillion (Southwark Playhouse 2018/Old Vic Workrooms 2019), Found In Translation (Blue Elephant/Tour 2017).
Laura has enjoyed an extensive career as an actress in television, film and theatre. Her television and film credits include: Young Jane in Jane Eyre (LWT), David Copperfield, (BBC), Casualty, Silent Witness, My Family (BBC) and academy award winning film, Gosford Park. Theatre work has included the European premiere of Snoo Wilson’s, Lovesong of the Electric Bear (The Hope Theatre), a selection of Gertrude Stein plays and Say it with Flowers (Hampstead Theatre) directed by Katie Mitchell. Laura was part of the original cast in the world premiere of George Benjamin and Martin Crimp's Opera, Written On Skin directed by Katie Mitchell, which she toured to various opera houses in Europe including The Royal Opera House, London and to the Lincoln Centre NYC.
Currently Laura's focus is as an Artistic Director of charity, The Dot Collective and the south London community performance space Longfield Hall. Laura's passion lies in making theatre accessible for all, creating joyful in-the-moment experiences and helping the community stay connected through the provision of arts activities.
Stuart Turner - Creative associate and actor
Stuart first joined The Dot Collective in 2016 as an actor and shortly after became a Creative Associate of the company. Prior to this he trained as an actor at The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, receiving a BA Hons in Acting. As an actor Stuart has performed in a variety of plays and musicals in London, regional and international theatres.
Stuart is experienced in providing theatrical activities outside of the traditional theatre space, predominantly working with children, people living with Dementia and their carers. His work is centred around bringing the benefits of artistic environments to improve the health and wellbeing of those who have little or no access to theatre and arts events. As a keen musician, he also enjoys incorporating music as a sensory tool into his work to help people engage, create, make, devise, share their stories and memories and of course… to boogie!
Stuart joins The Dot Collective on their mission to see people living with Dementia and in care environments better connected to theatre and the arts.
Helen Mayfield - Chair of the Trustees
Robert Hickson - Trustee
Nicola Newman - Trustee