Theatre Re presents “The Nature of Forgetting”


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Theatre Re brings the issue of mental health to Center for Faith and Life.

On Oct. 26, the Performing Arts Committee presented “The Nature of Forgetting” as a part of the Center Stage Series in Center for Faith and Life.

“The Nature of Forgetting” is a theatrical performance put on by Theatre Re, an acting company from London. “The Nature of Forgetting” was premiered at the Edinburgh Film Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland, in Aug. 2017.

Theatre Re is made up of multiple individuals who play various roles. The performance had two musicians Alex Judd and Chris Jones and four actors and actresses; Guillaume Pigé, Eygló Belafonte, Luna Tosin and Calum Littley.

The show is about a man in his mid 50s suffering from early onset dementia. The piece explores what it is like inside the mind of the main character as he races through memories of the distant past while attempting to piece together thoughts of the present.

Director of Campus Programming Kristin Underwood talks about the untraditional nature of the performance. “It’s not a play in the conventional sense,” Underwood said. “There’s almost no text or spoken word it’s almost all physical movement and physical manifestations that represent the ideas of remembering and forgetting.”

Underwood says that the performance calls for audience engagement for people of all ages, which is why the show is recommended for viewers ages 10 and above. “I think it engages the audience in a really different way than a regular play does,” Underwood said. “So, although it’s about a middle-aged man and his grown children and him having early onset dementia, its super playful and colorful and surprising.”

Pigé stated that the inspiration for the play came from the troupe’s collaborative work with Professor of Neuroscience at the University College London Kate Jeffery. “We collaborated for about two years with neuroscience professor Kate Jeffery,” Pigé said. “The things we learned from Kate not only influenced the movements, but I think it influenced the way the entire piece was constructed and it helped us to develop the performance language for the show.”

According to Jeffery, memory does not work like a library where information can be easily picked up and reprocessed. Memories are constantly being constructed when they are remembered. Pigé shared the process of incorporating the neuroscience of forgetting and how he chose to portray something that is not there on a stage.

“Every time you remember something, those memories are being reconstructed once again,” Pigé said. “Kate told us that all that construction process happens deep down in the center of our brain in a part called the hippocampus.”

Jeffery explains that the hippocampus is like a workshop where memories are brought and constructed. Theatre Re recreated this idea on stage by having an empty stage, a workshop, and things that could be constructed and deconstructed on the side of the stage.

The theatre company also had a post-performance discussion where they answered audience questions. One audience member asked about the importance of music in the play. Composer Alex Judd believes that music was important for this play because it has strong ties to memory.

“Personally, I learned a lot from Professor Kate, especially in the importance of music and memory and the link between them,” Judd said. “Especially in people with Alzheimer’s and dementia, music is very therapeutic in helping them deal with the disease and helping all loved ones come to terms with the disease.”

PAC discovered Theatre Re and “The Nature of Forgetting” last spring. PAC President Alex Schaeffer (‘20) says that part of the reason for choosing this performance was how well its theme ties into some questions asked in Paideia.

“This play brings to light a lot of those tough questions that Luther students are exposed to in Paideia,” Schaeffer said. “Things that you know will definitely be a big question in this play. You know what is the meaning of life and how do we live life well.”

The next Center Stage Series performance will be Des Moines Symphony Orchestra on Nov. 8.

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Belafonte, Tosin, Pigé, and Littley perform a scene from “The Nature of Forgetting” show.
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