Laura Harling, Artistic Director and founder of The Dot Collective awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) in the 2023 New Year Honours for services to professional theatre in care homes and supporting people with dementia.
On receiving the news:
“It was very unexpected and I am so very grateful for the recognition of this work, and thankful for the continued support of my peers and funders who allow The Dot Collective to revolutionise the way theatre is thought of in care and community settings and provide stimulation, shared excitement and joy for those who are most isolated. Very excited for our next projects”
Laura Harling BEM (age 36) is a theatre producer, director and actor. She began as a child actor on stage, in films and on television. After post-graduate training at Drama Studio London, Harling has focused on stage and opera roles and producing. She enjoyed an extensive career in film, TV and theatre. Credits include: Young Jane in Jane Eyre (LWT), A Christmas Carol (RSC) David Copperfield (BBC), starring Daniel Radcliffe and Maggie Smith. These were followed by the roles in Gosford Park and Silent Witness (BBC). Laura went to Kingston University to study Fine art and then as a post graduate to Drama Studio London. She went on to appear in theatre productions including: ‘Say it with Flowers’ (Hampstead Theatre/Katie Mitchell), was part of the original cast of George Benjamin and Martin Crimp's Opera, ‘Written On Skin’ (European tour inc ROH/Lincoln Centre NYC), A Midsummer Night's Dream (Rose Theatre, Bankside) and Lovesong of the Electric Bear by Snoo Wilson (Arts Theatre)
In 2015 she formed The Dot Collective, named after her own grandmother, Dorothy who went into residential care. The aim was to produce professional theatre in care environments for those who had limited access to attend the theatre. She has produced 12 productions for care communities including producing and directing an aerial circus adaption of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland Alice in Aerialand, ‘One Hundred Trillion’ (Old Vic Workrooms) and ‘A Map to You’ (Longfield Hall) both immersive experiences of four short plays written in collaboration with those living with dementia, celebrating their lives and raising awareness to the public. Laura’s focus is not just to bring theatre into care, but professional theatre of the highest standard, immersing communities with all the aesthetics one would expect when going to the theatre including touring a 5 metre high aerial circus rig into 15 residential care homes in 2021. Her own personal experience of her Nan Dorthy Harling, (Dot) living in care, allowed Laura to acknowledge a need for professional theatre in care environments. The Dot Collective produces open air summer and Christmas care home tours annually alongside new writing projects that work directly with people living with dementia.