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Emotional dementia story to be told in library performances

Article date - 15 May 2018

One woman will take the stage in local libraries to talk about her experience of dementia in an emotional and entertaining performance, which features as part of the award-winning Cultural Hubs, arts in libraries programme.
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Performed by Emma Decent, ‘I Don’t Know What I’m Supposed To Be Doing’ is Emma’s personal story about her mother’s dementia, how it affected her and others. The phrase was something Emma’s mum said repeatedly in the early days of the condition, which is associated with a decline in memory or thinking skills.

Over ten years later, now her mother has died, Emma finds herself saying the same thing.

Though not specifically designed for people with dementia, the performance is suitable for anyone interested in the condition, including those affected by it – those in the early stages, family, carers, health professionals – and others.

The show coincides with this year’s Dementia Awareness Week (21-27 May), which calls on people to learn more about the condition and become Dementia Friends. Learn more by visiting the Dementia Friends website.

Emma has beautifully pieced together snapshots of her life using story-telling, photographic slideshows, music and piles of personal mementos.

Emma said: “The last 16 years of my life were richly coloured by the aging process of both my parents, my mother’s being dominated by her dementia. I struggled to watch them change, to fail, to require me to step up (or not) to the challenge of changing roles and become ‘grown-up’ at last. To put to bed (or not) some of my resentments of their imperfect parenting as spawned in adolescence.

“When my mother died in January 2015, despite the imperfections of our relationship and the fact she’d had dementia for over 10 years, I never felt more lonely. I gradually turned my attention to this possible project as a way of processing it all – picking up old poems, fragments of writing, memories, photos – and her legacy to me as embodied in her love for literature, culture and books.”

Emma’s mother was a librarian, while Emma herself is a library assistant.

Created especially for library spaces, this show goes on a journey through time, highlighting the love between a mother and daughter, and how it feels to re-evaluate a life. ‘I Don’t Know’ is a funny, moving, inspiring tale, told using poetry, theatre and library books.

It features on Thursday 24 May at Chester Lane Library at 1pm, and Eccleston Library at 7pm. Each show lasts approximately 70 minutes. The Eccleston Library showing will be a British Sign Language interpreted performance.

Tickets cost £6, £5 (St Helens Library Card holders) or £3 for concessions. Book tickets online or call into any local library to purchase tickets.

Free tickets are available for carers and support workers.

The shows are suitable for adults, and young people aged 10 and above.

Cultural Hubs, the nationally-renowned arts-in-libraries programme, is delivered by St Helens Council’s Library Service which is an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation.