Lakeside Arts
Part of University of Nottingham
Lakeside Arts
Katie Take Care opera

TAKE CARE

A new opera about a carer

Take Care opera - Myrtle and Chorus

TAKE CARE

A new opera about a carer

Take Care opera - Harry shows Katie birds

TAKE CARE

A new opera about a carer

Take Care opera - Katie and Joyce

TAKE CARE

A new opera about a carer

Take Care opera - Katie, Harry, the paramedics and chorus

TAKE CARE

A new opera about a carer

Take Care opera - The orchestra

TAKE CARE

A new opera about a carer

We will produce the world premiere of a new chamber opera, called 'Take Care'. Carers are both the creative heart of this work and its intended audience. Dementia directly affects 800,000 people in the UK, plus many more who provide the social care needed for a life with dignity. In this opera we want to engage carers themselves with a heightened representation of day-to-day care for people with dementia. We choose the rich medium of opera to elevate the status of dementia care and to shine a light on the emotional labour of carers. The production will convey a rich and nuanced picture of the everyday, encouraging carers to reflect on their complex role, and showing others the challenges facing carers. It is timely because social care is high on the political agenda.

The project is based on extensive research into the working lives of those who care for people with dementia; both as family members and as paid professionals. With funding from Arts Council England/National Lottery and the Economic & Social Research Council.

The story of 'Take Care' centres on the working life of Katie, a carer for people living with dementia who is new on the job. Words by Cindy Oswin and music by Douglas Finch create a tapestry of humour & pathos, moving from comforting refrains of ‘tea and toast’ to frightening loss of identity, confusion, frustration and loneliness. The piece captures these often chaotic emotional contrasts as well as moments of insight and love in the carer’s everyday working life.

We follow Katie visiting her clients: Myrtle, well-off but lonely - troubled and confused by her relationship with her daughter; Joyce, often irascible, who used to feel great love and tenderness towards her husband Harry, but now hardly recognises him; Harry, proud of the work he used to do as a coal miner, now lamenting his growing physical frailty and his wife’s decline; and Eileen (represented by a puppet), in the late stages of dementia and at the end of life, but calm and content, spending much of her waking hours singing hymns.

The purpose of the opera is to portray the highs and lows of caring for someone with dementia, to create a greater understanding and appreciation of that role, both in the carers themselves and in the wider community. The innovative use of opera in Take Care’ elevates elevate this essential role through music, libretto, performance and staging.

Contact Professor Justine Schnieder for more information

Take a peek behind the curtain

Hear how this new opera was created from the people behind the scenes as well as those on stage. Presentation with Q&A.

Rehearsal photographs

Award-winning soprano Donna Bateman stars in the new opera ‘Take Care’ at Lakeside on April 2 & 3 2022. Donna was born in Nottingham and still has strong family ties here. She is joined by principal singers John Upperton, Violetta Gawara and Jane Streeton, in a full production of the work by composer Douglas Finch with words by Cindy Oswin. Joining the cast is a chorus of 12 local dementia carers. UoN students join professional players in the orchestra, and NTU theatre design students are responsible for costumes and set, with stage director Mervyn Millar and music director Jonathan Tilbrook. ‘Take Care’ is based on research into the hidden world of dementia home care, which was led by Professor Justine Schneider in 2016-18, with funding from the NIHR School for Social Care Research. This translational project has received support from the Arts Council/National Lottery and the ESRC Impact Accelerator Fund.

Photo credits

Image 1: Mervyn Millar
Image 2-5: Andrew Hallsworth

Programme

Libretto

Synopsis

Overture:

Katie is taking her young daughter to nursery. It is raining and they are late.

Scene One:

Myrtle is in bed at home. She is still involved in her dream and is reluctant to eat, dress and especially, shower.

Scene Two:

Joyce is outside her house watering plants. Katie goes inside to Harry who is birdwatching through binoculars. Harry and Joyce squabble as they eat breakfast. Katie tries to keep the peace.

Scene Three:

Katie is massaging cream into Myrtle’s legs. Myrtle can’t remember when her daughter will next visit. Katie reminds her but Myrtle regrets that she doesn’t really know her daughter anyway.

Scene Four:

Harry muses about his former life as a miner. Joyce watches motor racing on TV.

Scene Five:

Katie is giving Eileen a wash in bed. Eileen doesn’t speak but loves singing hymns. As Katie fills in her timesheet, Eileen dies. Katie sings Eileen’s last hymn ‘Lead Kindly Light’ with the chorus.

Interval

Scene Six:

Katie’s conscience, played by the chorus, blames her for the death of Eileen. Joyce is again watching motor racing on TV. Katie joins Harry outside. Harry comforts her and thinks about his own life and death. Joyce startles them both through the window.

Scene Seven:

Katie learns that Myrtle is going into a care home. Katie asks if she might visit Myrtle and Vivian agrees. Katie hopes that Myrtle will be well looked after.

Scene Eight:

Katie can’t get into Joyce and Harry’s house so climbs in the window. Harry is on the floor. Katie dials emergency services. Joyce is confused, frightened and struggling to remember her earlier feelings for Harry. The paramedics arrive. Katie is now very late to collect her daughter from nursery.

End

 

Research papers from the Broadening Our Understanding of Good Homecare (BOUGH) study

  1. Pollock K, Wilkinson S, Perry Young L, Turner N & Schneider J. (2020) What do family caregivers want from domiciliary care for relatives living with dementia? A qualitative study. Ageing & Society. https://nottingham-repository.worktribe.com/output/3974330/what-do-family-caregivers-want-from-domiciliary-care-for-relatives-living-with-dementia-a-qualitative-study
     
  2. Turner N, Schneider J, Pollock K, Travers C, Perry-Young L, & Wilkinson S. (2019). ‘Going the extra mile’ for older people with dementia: Exploring the voluntary labour of homecare workers. Dementia. https://doi.org/10.1177/1471301218817616
     
  3. Travers C, Schneider J, Perry Young L, Wilkinson S & Pollock K. (2019) Using a Reflective Diary Method to Investigate the Experiences of Paid Home Care Workers Caring for People With Dementia. Home Health Care Management and Practice https://doi.org/10.1177/1084822319876571
     
  4. Schneider J, Pollock K, Wilkinson S, Perry-Young L, Travers C & Turner N. (2018) The subjective world of home care workers in dementia: an 'order of worth' analysis. Home Health Care Services Quarterly, 38 (2) 96-109. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/01621424.2019.1578715?journalCode=whhc20
     

 

 

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