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 with dementia and in care. We tour full-scale, professional productions to care homes that pop up in the their living/dining rooms and gardens. With a professional team, we transform their spaces in front of their eyes bringing the aesthetics that one would expect when going to the theatre. We adapt our performances to suit any space; making it an immersive and entertaining shared experience for those receiving care, their guests and carers. Our theatrical workshops link those in care with industry professionals to create new plays inspired by the memories of our participants, getting their voice heard and raising a positive awareness of dementia through the arts.
We work with professional actors and creatives to ensure our standards meet those of professional theatres. The Dot Collective has established strong relationships with care providers across the country including The Alzheimer's Society, Link Age, Anchor, BUPA, Care UK, Age UK, AXA Healthcare, Dementia Action Alliances, and other local authority care centres.
WHO'S BEHIND THE DOT IN THE DOT COLLECTIVE?
The Dot Collective was founded in memory of Artistic Director, Laura Harling’s grandmother. Three years ago, Dorothy Harling was in need of constant care and moved into a care home in East Sussex. It was a brilliant care home, with a wide 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.
One day when Laura went to visit her Nan, she wasn’t very happy and only wanted to stay in her room, despite a list sitting on the bedside table of activities such as carpet bowls, cookery and quiz sessions available to her. When trying to encourage her to get out of her room and be involved socially she said: ‘I can’t do those things, I think I’ll just go back to sleep.’ Then she asked Laura what she was up to and she told her that she was performing in the West End. Dorothy replied: ‘I wish I could see you do that, I wish I could do just any of the things I used to be able to do.’ It was this conversation that gave Laura an idea. She asked her Nan: ‘What if I brought theatre here, to you? What would you like to see?’ She said: ‘Oh yes, a bit of everything, please.’
So the company got started, and planned their first tour for that Christmas. Unfortunately Dorothy passed away just a week before they made it to her care home with the production. However, from the expression on her face at the thought of this idea and after a brilliant Christmas meeting generations of families sat together in the care home 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.
Theatre of this form is beneficial to both those receiving care; working in care and for the arts, because theatre offers stimulation as well as shared entertainment without the pressure of having to participate in something that anxiety and immobility can stop you from doing. This makes it a therapeutic activity as well as being stimulating that everyone can be involved in no matter their mood.
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. Most recently 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), 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), Sophia Western in The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling (BBC) the lead role in children’s TV Series, Polterguests (CITV), David Copperfield, (BBC) with Daniel Radcliffe and Maggie Smith, Casualty, Silent Witness and My Family (BBC) and Gosford Park directed by Robert Altman. 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, Say it with Flowers (Hampstead Theatre) directed by Katie Mitchell, the title role in the UK Premiere of Ivana Sajko's Woman Bomb and Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (The Rose Theatre). 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.
STUART TURNER - Creative associate and actor