Future for the RT Archive

We have included material on over 20 representative projects to give an indication of what has been generated and preserved in connection with each of these. This includes professional reminiscence theatre productions (including the research interviews on which they were based) and detailed records of intergenerational and older people's theatre projects.

Some of the remaining projects, including those going back to the early 1980s, were not so fully documented, but all have generated a wealth of memories and production records, including scripts, tour schedules, production photographs and film. We still have several large-scale multicultural and international projects to archive. These are currently being digitised and catalogued.

2012-13 already saw the activation of the archive in performance, and 2013-14 saw more and new dramas researched, devised and performed
and many more projects digitised and uploaded onto the website, especially inter-generational, inter-cultural projects and older people's theatre projects.
In June 2014, the website was officially launched at the University of Greenwich. Work continues on digitising material which constitutes the archive. 

Even though it began only in 2012, through research dissemination, sustainable training programmes and international networks the value of the archive and the methodologies it documents have already had a positive impact on the practice of reminiscence theatre internationally, on individual volunteers and on elderly audiences, many of whom are dementia sufferers.

  • A Symposium (5 May 2012) brought together members of the local community who have connections to the archive material either as interviewees or as family members of participants; theatre practitioners, archivists and oral historians; academics from 10 UK Universities; and representatives from international reminiscence organisations. The event created exchange between those with first-hand knowledge of the material and methods, those with an academic interest in the material and those looking to develop existing care of the elderly.

Local and international training events engage the community in the process of preserving the archive and influencing current practice in reminiscence and dementia care. 

  • A Friends of the Archive programme has been set up to train local and international volunteers and assistants (through the European Commission) in archiving practices such as transcription and digitising: to these volunteers we owe much of the RTA website, for which we are deeply grateful. 
  • A new training course and apprenticeship scheme in Reminiscence Arts in Dementia Care has been developed for the European Reminiscence Network, hosted at the University of Greenwich's Drama programme’s dedicated facilities. In October 2012, 12 community arts practitioners devised new methods for engaging dementia sufferers and their carers in arts activities, and spent 12 weeks working with staff and elderly people with dementia. This pilot scheme is part of a 10-country partnership supported by the European Commission’s Lifelong Learning programme (Grundtvig Adult Learning) with a view to extending and sharing the European Reminiscence Network’s experience of running a 2-year project, “Remembering Together: Reminiscence Training”. Following the success of the pilot, Lilley and Schweitzer hosted a second training programme (Jan 2013) for 15 dementia care workers from the UK and across Europe, with other similar programmes in October 2013, January 2014 and October 2014. 

The Acquisition and Digitisation of the Archives of the European Reminiscence Network, a research resource that will significantly expand the training opportunities for Reminiscence Theatre practitioners on an international level is planned for 2015-2016.  In June 2014 we  organised an international conference (“Remembering Yesterday, Caring Today”) bringing together practitioners and academics to share experience and this event coincided with the launch of the new archive, creating fresh networks to generate innovative ideas and disseminate extant good practice.