Drama is for Life! Recreational Drama Activities for the Elderly in the UK

  • Persephone Sextou Newman University
  • Cory Smith
Keywords: Applied Theatre, wellbeing, community


Applied Theatre is an inclusive term used to host a variety of powerful, community-based participatory processes and educational practices. Historically, Applied Theatre practices include Theatre-in-Education (TiE), Theatre-in-Health Education (THE), Theatre for Development (TfD), prison theatre, community theatre, theatre for conflict resolution/reconciliation, reminiscence theatre with elderly people, theatre in museums, galleries and heritage centres, theatre at historic sites, and more recently, theatre in hospitals. In this paper we are positioning the application of recreational dramatic activities with older adults (55+) under Applied Theatre and we are exploring the benefits they offer to the participants. We are concerned that their health and wellbeing in western societies is not prioritized and it is clear that loneliness in particular is a current and ongoing issue. We will present research results from a drama dissertation study that took place in a community hall in the South East England where drama is placed at the core of their practice with old populations. Data was collected by a mixed method (semi-structured interviews and semi-immersive observations) and was critically discussed amongst the authors to conclude that attending recreational drama classes brings a certain degree of happiness, social belonging and improvement of interaction with others to old people’s lives.


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Author Biographies

Persephone Sextou, Newman University

Persephone Sextou (PhD) is Reader in Applied Theatre and Director of the Community and Applied Drama laboratory (CADLab) at Newman University (UK). She is currently leading a theatre project for children in healthcare with a prestigious grant from BBC Children in Need in collaboration with the National Health System of England (NHS). She is member of Editorials for Arts & Health Journal, Applied Theatre Research Journal, Arts in Society Series, and a reviewer for National Drama and Palgrave Educational Series NY etc. She is widely published in English and Greek. Her work is cited more than 25 times in 6 languages. Her most recent monograph is Theatre for Children in Hospitals. The Gift of Compassion (Intellect, 2016).

Cory Smith

Cory Smith is a former student of Newman University. Whilst studying at university, she was particularly interested in the impact that participative drama could have within the wider community. She obtained a first class degree within this field. She has since gone on to work within the special educational needs and mental health sectors. She will be starting her postgraduate study of social work in September and hopes to make a big impact within the social care sector throughout her blossoming career. 


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How to Cite
Sextou, P., & Smith, C. (2017). Drama is for Life! Recreational Drama Activities for the Elderly in the UK. Text Matters: A Journal of Literature, Theory and Culture, (7), 273-290. https://doi.org/10.1515/texmat-2017-0015