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One woman show raises awareness of dementia

One woman show raises awareness of dementia

Up-and-coming actress Kristyl Neho will play ten characters in a one woman show at Te Whaea, the National Dance and Drama Centre on 2 and 3 December. Te Mahara (The Memory) is based on Kristyl’s own whānau experience with dementia, a disease which robs people of memory, cognitive function and personality.

Te Mahara was developed from a piece during Kristyl’s last year at Toi Whakaari in 2009 with the help of screen writer Briar Grace Smith (The Strength of Water). It is directed by Tom McCrory and Nina Nawalowalo of Wellington theatre company The Conch.

Alzheimers New Zealand’s Cass Alexander says using art to expose the family experience of dementia helps break down stigma and raises awareness about the disease.

“Te Mahara is close to our hearts at Alzheimers New Zealand, as it tells a very articulate and moving version of the stories we hear on a daily basis. Kristyl is a stellar performer and beautifully captures a very real New Zealand family dynamic. She moves seamlessly through characters and the drama and emotion in which unfolds in this piece is representational of any tough situation a modern family faces.”

It is also important spirituality and mana are discussed in relation to dementia and memory, says Cass.

“Questions are often unanswered about what happens to people’s soul and spirit when they can no longer remember who they are.”

Capital Times reviewer Lynne Freeman compared Te Mahara to Toa Fraser’s award winning film No 2 when it was performed at Bats theatre as part of the Conchus Season in September last year.


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