Kalamalka Secondary presents Closing Doors, an original play about dementia, and Misplaced, an original production about teens and seniors bridging the age gap, May 30-31, June 2-3, and 6-7 at Kalamalka Secondary’s Apple Box Theatre, Coldstream. (Photo submitted)

Kalamalka Secondary presents Closing Doors, an original play about dementia, and Misplaced, an original production about teens and seniors bridging the age gap, May 30-31, June 2-3, and 6-7 at Kalamalka Secondary’s Apple Box Theatre, Coldstream. (Photo submitted)

Kalamalka Secondary production bridging gaps

Kalamalka Secondary presents two originals: Closing Doors and Misplaced

Shon Thomas, drama teacher at Kalamalka Secondary School, doesn’t get a lot of messages from PhD’s. But when he does, he listens.

Dalia Gottlieb-Tanaka, head of the non-profit Society for the Arts in Dementia Care, was looking for an adventure for her senior’s group. Thomas thought just the idea of getting a group of seniors together with a group of teenagers was a golden idea – never mind a potential collaboration for an audience.

Kalamalka Secondary presents Closing Doors, an original play about dementia, and Misplaced, an original production about teens and seniors bridging the age gap, May 30-31, June 2-3, and 6-7 at Kalamalka Secondary’s Apple Box Theatre, Coldstream.

The play that has become central to the acting work of the students is Closing Doors – a one-act dramatizing one family’s story as they cope with a dementia diagnosis for their matriarch.

“Just as the Theatrical Production class in 2015 managed to take on teen mental health with Inside Club, this next lot of students has fearlessly delved into the ups and downs of another hard-to-explore, but immensely important, topic,” said Thomas. “Closing Doors does not preach and pretend to have solutions, but it does try to pass along the intelligence, life experience, and emotional conditions that may help a family dealing with these awful diseases.”

Closing Doors is a memory play that skips around the lifetime of its pivotal role, Dale Mensch, with live music transitions representing the years travelled to – and just as true memories, nothing is perfectly linear or sequential.

The second play, which incorporates the stories from letters written by members and advocates of the Vernon Society for the Arts in Dementia Care as well as letters written by students, has developed into a one-act comedic reader’s theatre piece entitled Misplaced. The action of the play develops from a fictional and secretive “dead letters office” where lost and misaddressed letters are scoured, with each letter turning into a story populated by new actors.

The letters range from narratives and monologues to a dance routine and choral speech. Four members of the senior’s group and 16 students of the theatrical production class bring this largely comedic play to life.

“These productions are important to me for two main reasons,” Thomas said. “First, having the groups meet worked to wipe away a boatload of stereotypes they held of one another. Second, there is a silent suffering all over our community happening to care givers, patients and health care workers around the stresses of dementia and Alzheimer’s. We want to start awareness, conversations and empathy. It’s a tall order — but it’s our great wish.

Closing Doors runs May 30-31, June 2-3, and 6-7 at 7:30 p.m., with a special senior’s matinee June 3 at 2 p.m. Misplaced runs in conjunction with Closing Doors for a special double feature during the senior’s matinee and June 7 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available at the Kalamalka Secondary office or at the door for $10, with a family rate (3 or more immediate family members) of $30. Seniors’ tickets are two for one throughout the run. Kalamalka Secondary’s Apple Box Theatre is located at 7900 McClounie Rd, Coldstream. Reservations can be made through kalapplebox@gmail.com.