HONG KONG: Positive impact of drama training on retirees
An inspiring story from Hong Kong, where arts-based life education organization Arts’ Options founded the drama course for people over the age of 55, aiming to develop Hong Kong’s first professional troupe of older-age actors. Besides improving the participants' well-being and self-worth, the drama training helped one retiree while going through his cancer treatment.
"After enduring arduous rounds of chemotherapy and electrotherapy, Berthold Chung took to the stage to share his cancer survival tale in a solo theatrical performance.
The four-minute monologue intertwined his life experiences, from graduating from college in 1977 to completing treatment last year.
“Drama experiences have given me strength in handling life adversities,” says the 69-year-old retired Hong Kong secondary school principal. “They are extra healing forces and obviously sped up my recovery.”
Engaging in drama activities has shown promising benefits for older people like Chung, improving their psychological and physical well-being, according to research and elderly people who have taken part in them.
Drama provides a creative outlet for self-expression, fosters social connections, enhances cognitive ability, and promotes physical activity, all of which support healthy ageing."
"Drama therapy helps people solve personal and social problems by using role play, voice work, movement and storytelling to help them explore and reflect on their feelings.
This helps then to build self-awareness and self-confidence while having some fun with others.
Drama therapist Si-Yeung Li says it is common for older people to equip themselves with diverse skills to ensure “they still function as someone who can give to others”; however, they often overlook their own needs and wants.
Li emphasises the distinction between drama therapy and drama classes.
While the latter focus primarily on learning goals, including the quality of performance and the development of dramatic skills, drama therapists focus more on personal growth and providing psychological support, she says.
“Our major goal would be how we design different dramatic activities to help support [participants’] needs,” she adds."