Let me Stay at Luminate Festival

Let Me Stay by Vital Xposure. Photograph by Libby Watson

In November 2014 Let Me Stay by Julie McNamara and produced by Vital Xposure Ltd toured across the UK, with support from Unlimited. With additional support from Unlimited Impact the work extended its reach across Scotland as part of Luminate Festival.

Let Me Stay is a tender and unique exploration of the impact of Alzheimer’s on family relations. Artist Julie McNamara has recorded her Mother’s songs and stories, filmed and photographed her in all her glory, over many years. The result is a compelling solo theatre performance, an extraordinary love letter straight from the heart welded with a wicked underlying humour. Julie McNamara reflects on the process and experience of taking her work to more remote locations:

This festival dedicated to creative ageing is spectacular in its ethos and ambition and we are delighted to have been part of this year’s artistic programme. Unfortunately extreme weather drove away some of our audience. Attendance figures are less than we had expected. Each venue had done extensive outreach and marketing, and we had promoted via social networking and newsletters from London in addition to sending flyers and information to care homes and venues that were local to the tour venues. We were pleased to come across posters in local shops, garages and bus stops.

The rain was relentless, Skye ferries were cancelled, local buses delayed and we were held up on a significant travel day by a landslide that meant a diversion several hours off our intended route. Three great successes on our tour were 1) the workshop at the Glen Urquhart care centre with elder citizens from Drumnadrochit. 2) The wonderful reception at Cove Burgh Hall with the entire audience staying for a ‘wee dram’ with Shirley and 3) We were visited at SEALL by Lorraine Jordan, celebrated folk musician who had seen a poster in the local bus stop. She just happened to be on retreat in Skye.

Audience feedback was very positive although one or two wanted me to tell more detail of the negative side to caring for somebody with Alzheimer’s. My feeling is that Shirley is living well with dementia. She is happy. I have detailed my frustrations, spoken openly about setting my grief aside to let her ‘be’ in her world. It feels more important to let Shirley’s voice lead the way.’

Let Me Stay by Vital Xposure. Photograph by Libby Watson

Let Me Stay by Vital Xposure. Film still by Caglar Kimyoncu

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