THE Octagon Theatre will be taking "the show on the road" this Christmas in its latest community project.

ArtBeat, the Octagon's drama group for over-50s, are working with professional actors to put on The Present, an original performance, to tour local residential homes, day centre and community venues next week.

The festive show features carols and short scripted scenes, and it will investigate the issue of ageing and dementia ­— exploring the impact it has for those living with the illness as well as for the friends and family of those diagnosed.

Set at Christmas, it offers a fun, uplifting journey through the comedy, joy and occasional challenges of the festive season, and makes older people’s lives visible and valuable.

Nicola Schofield who wrote the script for The Present said: “It has been a wonderful experience working with the Octagon and members of their ArtBeat group. The Present was created from a collection of ideas and experiences ArtBeat members shared in a creative workshop around challenges they face with ageing, which I then developed in to a script. It has been a lot of fun to write and be part of, and will offer a fun, entertaining and engaging experience for audiences.”

Amy Hailwood, Participation Practitioner at the Octagon Theatre added: “The Octagon are dedicated to making theatre accessible to the wider community – the idea of The Present was to create a piece of work we can take directly to community venues for residents to enjoy in the comfort of a familiar place. Research shows that music and gentle interactivity can be a great way for people living with dementia to reconnect with themselves and others, which is what we hope to achieve with this project.

"Thanks to funding we receive from Ambition for Ageing we are thrilled we can offer our ArtBeat members this opportunity to create a piece of professional theatre and share their experiences with audiences. "We are all very excited to see their efforts come to life on stage.”

ArtBeat is for those over-50 who want to develop their drama skills, explore creativity and meet new people, and they do not need prior experience of performing.

The Present will be performed at venues across Bolton from Monday, December 16 to Saturday, December 21.

For more information or to enquire about booking a performance for your residential home/community centre please contact