Re-Live’s work began when its co-founders, Karin Diamond and Alison O’Connor created their first theatre performance, with a group of seven older people from Cardiff in 2006. What started out as an idea for one show snow-balled into an exhilarating journey which led to the formation of a company and a growing body of work. Bringing together Karin’s experience from professional theatre, film and T.V. and Alison’s applied theatre and counselling practice in prisons and mental health settings, the company began to develop a unique methodology of life story theatre.
We have been developing our methodology of life story work over the past 11 years. In that time we have worked pre-dominantly with older adults on a process of life review, inspired by the work of Butler (1963) and Birren (1991) and our own theatre and counselling practice in a variety of settings. We have developed an approach which is collaborative and hopeful, one which encourages people to reflect on their experiences and tell their own story.
We believe that we all need to make sense of the life we have lived, are living, will live in the future. We all need to find a story to call our own. Theatre and storytelling can provide a vehicle for people to take ownership of their experiences in a different way, edit them, fictionalise them, find catharsis or closure through the ritual, structure and camaraderie of a theatre performance. A previous participant, reflecting on her involvement in a performance said “To be given the chance to show how I had felt about certain episodes in my life was both cathartic and empowering. It helped me turn baggage into a powerful tool. Performing my story changed how I looked at myself. I no longer saw myself as a victim.”
A vital element of our work is the role of the audience in bearing witness to the testimonies of people on stage. We don’t give people a voice, we give them the opportunity, the encouragement and the performance skills to make their voice heard. We are proactive in inviting decision makers, politicians, health and social care professionals to our work as well as audiences young and old. We are delighted that our age range of audience members to date is from 10-91 and that we regularly attract people who have never been to see a theatre performance before.