Search
Login
ASA is the essential resource to cultivate leadership, advance knowledge, and strengthen the skills of those who work with, and on behalf of, older adults.

Text Resize

Book Review: The Penelope Project
posted 05.16.2016
  • Tags :

By Terri Tobey

The Penelope Project: An Arts-Based Odyssey to Change Elder Care, edited by Anne Basting, Maureen Towey, and Ellie Rose, describes the collaboration of three disparate entities experimenting with a novel approach for engaging long-term care residents in life enrichment activities.

Milwaukee’s Luther Manor residents and staff team up with a group of faculty and students from the University of Wisconsin theatre department, and professionals actors from Sojourn Theatre Company to develop, write, and produce, Finding Penelope at Luther Manor over a two year period. The play is based on the mythical story of Penelope, the heroine who is mother, wife (of Odysseus), queen and keeper of traditions, and who becomes a symbol for loyalty, perseverance and power. After persevering through months of related activities and hours of rehearsals leading up to the finale, the residents find their own inner power.

The impact of community-based arts transformed Luther Manor and broke with the longstanding tradition of segregated life enrichment programs. A constant work in progress right up until the final performance, Penelope transformed everyone involved in the process. The actors formed authentic relationships, meeting the challenge of working alongside residents with dementia and Alzheimers on stage. Intergenerational friendships grew as residents inspired young college students through their willingness to try new, uncomfortable things. Luther Manor staff and volunteers had eye-opening experiences learning refreshing ways to communicate with residents and ignite their curiosity and openness through an “invitation” to explore.  Even the residents were surprised by all the hidden talent which emerged within their ranks and continued to flourish beyond the two year project.

Finding Penelope became a catalyst for the reinvention of a long-term community structure; a rediscovery of each person involved; a rejuvenation of arts-based life-enriching activity; and a reaffirmation of relationships bonded forever.


Terri Tobey, Gerontologist and Senior Fitness Specialist 

Stay Connected

Follow American Society on Aging on Facebook   Follow American Society on Aging on LinkedIn   Follow American Society on Aging on Twitter   Subscribe eNewsletter   

Events

ASA-USC online courses begin Event Details
16th Annual Rocky Mountain Geriatrics Conference Event Details

Jobs

AgeBlog

posted on 07.17.2018

The shrinking of newsrooms has meant fewer people dedicated to covering older adults and issues that affect them.  Read More

posted on 07.17.2018

The In Focus Section of the July–August 2018 issue of Aging Today addresses the media and how it covers aging—from Jay Newton-Small...  Read More