The aim of the Brightlights project (originally called Neston Theatre Arts Club) was to reduce social isolation and loneliness among older people living in and around the Neston area, by delivering and encouraging participation in an over-50s theatre club.
During 60 sessions held over the course of 15 months, participants designed, developed and produced their own theatre show, with a view to performing it at the Leverhulme Drama Festival in April 2019.
Little Actors Theatre Company was well-established in the local community as a provider of performing arts activities for under-18s; Brightlights was its first such project involving older adults. A facilitator was recruited for the project, with support from the existing Artistic Director.
Participants were recruited through a promotional campaign in the local area.
It had been anticipated that a number of volunteers would also be recruited to facilitate delivery of the club sessions, however there was less interest than expected in this role – the project team reported that most people wanted to be involved as participants instead. In the end, five participants took on additional responsibilities to account for the lack of formal volunteers.
Participants decided on the name ‘Brightlights’ for the project, and successfully planned, produced and performed their show as planned (ultimately being nominated for several awards at the Leverhulme Drama Festival). An additional performance was given at Storyhouse in Chester.