Research in Drama Education: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance Call for Proposals for Themed Issue: Theatre, Dementia and Relationality

Research in Drama Education: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance

Over the last two decades, the arts have been increasingly applied in response to the challenges of rising rates of dementia. This growth in practice derives from recognition that, in the absence of a cure, there is a need to develop approaches that address its key impacts of social isolation, depression, and quality of life (QOL). As such, the majority of research that has been conducted about arts and dementia is science-based, with an emphasis on improving the wellbeing of participants.

Arts researchers and practitioners have become increasingly interested in the aesthetic possibilities of arts practices which are created with, for, or inspired by, people with dementia. Theatre research and practice has developed significantly in the last decade, with theatre productions about dementia, creative and participatory work, specially organised theatre visits, theatre projects with a strong inter-generational component, professional theatre companies of older people, multisensory programmes, play readings, and other forms of dementia-friendly theatre movements. Concurrently, there has been a shift in dementia research, from a person-centred approach to care, to one which recognises caregiving as a relational process. Gerontologist Mike Nolan and colleagues argue that dementia care should be defined as ‘a network of social relationships… which are deeply connected and independent (Nolan et al, 2004: 47). The notion of relational care is also being considered by theatre researchers who are interested in the aesthetic connections between care and performance. In his article Towards an aesthetics of care (2015), James Thompson considers the ‘radical potential’ of placing ‘community-engaged arts work within the framework of care’ (432). He suggests that an aesthetics of care ‘seeks to focus upon how the sensory and affective are realised in human relations fostered in art projects’ (436). This research raises new questions about the role of the arts in dementia care, and the relationships between creativity, participation, and care.

In response to this growing area of praxis, this themed edition will explore, critique and document a range of work in this emerging field. We invite proposals from academics, practitioners who are working in the field of theatre and performance studies, social work, critical disability studies, and other related contexts. Contributors may wish to consider, but are by no means restricted to, the following themes: representations of dementia in theatre and performance, multisensory practices, performers with dementia, theatre in care homes, theatre and caregiving, dementia-friendly theatre buildings, engaging care staff and families, and the role of arts-based methodologies. We are interested in submissions in a range of formats, including:

  • video and sound files
  • research essays (6-8k words)
  • interviews, dialogues, and scripts
  • practitioner statements
  • performance and book reviews

Nolan, Mike, Davies, Sue, Brown, Jayne, Keady, John, and Nolan, Janet. (2004). “Beyond ‘person-centred’ care: a new vision for gerontological nursing.” International Journal of Older People Nursing. 13, 3a: 45-53.
Thompson, James. (2015). “Towards an aesthetics of care.” Research in Drama Education. 20, 4: 430-441.


Expressions of interest: 5 June 2017
First drafts: 3 January 2018
Final drafts: July 2018
Final copy deadline: 20 November 2018
Publication: February 2019

Expressions of interest should be 500 words long and submitted by email to
For information about RiDE: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance and its remit please click here.

Editorial information

  • Guest Editor: Nicky Hatton, University of Winchester, UK
  • Guest Editor: Michael Balfour, Griffith University, Australia
  • Guest Editor: Julie Dunn, Griffith University, Australia