Rhys Andersonsinging to Ruthven Towers residents

MEDIA RELEASE Tuesday December 14, 2021


Award-winning care home group, Balhousie Care Group has entered into its latest collaboration with Pitlochry Festival Theatre as the two groups adapt to the ongoing restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a unique project, residents will enjoy a trio of performance-based activities as well as an educational partnership in which theatre professionals will help care home activities teams develop music and drama-based skills.

Residents in nine Balhousie Care Group homes across Perthshire are being joined by Ali Watt and Rhys Anderson for solo performances of local tales, Scottish poetry and memorable tunes. The initiative forms part of Pitlochry Festival Theatre’s ambitious Shades of Tay – a Love Letter to Scotland project, growing and nurturing over 50 pieces of new art by artists and communities over three years.

The one-person shows are designed to spark a sense of nostalgia and pride in local landscapes and culture. Ali, a familiar face at Pitlochry Festival Theatre from his performances in a number of the famous repertory theatre’s Summer Seasons, first took performances into Balhousie Care Group homes when the partnership began in 2019. This time, to comply with all COVID-19 guidelines, the actor-musician has been a solo performer.

Rhys Anderson, fresh from his run in BBC’s Vigil, will replace Ali part way through the run. He told us, “I’m really looking forward to spending some time telling absolutely wonderful stories, reciting beautiful poetry, old and new, and singing away to classic Scottish songs. I can’t wait to start the tour. It’ll be great!”

It is hoped that one of the performances can be streamed to allow the further 17 Balhousie Care Group homes – from Aberdeenshire, through Angus, Dundee, Perth and Kinross and out to Falkirk and Fife – to enjoy the show too.

The other part of the collaboration is for the theatre to run virtual workshops with Balhousie care homes’ Activities Coordinators from across the whole group of 26 homes, which operates in six regions of Scotland.  The virtual workshops will help develop care home staff’s skills in utilising drama and music to create a sensory experience for Balhousie Care Group residents.

Deborah Dickinson, Producer at Pitlochry Festival Theatre, explained the reasoning behind specifically helping Activities Coordinators.

“We recognised, across the last 18 months, and especially during lockdowns, it must have been really tough for Activities Coordinators to constantly find new ideas and think of things to engage residents and, even more so, when visitors were not allowed in. So, the work became even more intensive and essential.

“We wanted to give something back to the Activities Coordinators: a source of fun; to re-energise and rejuvenate; some external invigoration and perhaps a little respite from having to constantly come up with the ideas. We knew they were all doing amazing jobs, but by delivering sessions through our artistic practitioners, they could perhaps give different perspectives with theatrical and dramatic techniques, as an extra tool for their ‘belt’.”

PFT staff and Activities Coordinators have liaise closely on the content of the workshops, which will be set up to practice techniques in storytelling to help build a world around their residents. By the end of the hour-long sessions, Activities Coordinators should have experienced and practiced flexible activities which they can apply directly to their work.

Balhousie Care Group is also supporting the theatre in building up their Archive of Memories as part of their 2020-launched, three-year artistic project, Shades of Tay – a love letter to Scotland. Residents will be encouraged, especially following the performances, to reminisce over their lives around the local area and around the River Tay in particular. They will then be invited to record or write their memories and add to the Archive – an ambitious attempt to collect 1000 memories for an audio exhibition to be hosted in Pitlochry in spring 2022.

Sheilah Harvey, Head of Operations at Balhousie Care Group said: “We are thrilled to be able to work with Pitlochry Festival Theatre once again and really value a partnership that is now more than two years old. The challenges of the last 18 months, working in a pandemic, have meant we all have to get imaginative with the work we do, and use online resources much more. There will be performances in nine of our homes this festive season while the online artistic sessions are available to all our activities staff across 26 facilities. And we know our wonderful residents are a precious resource for the Theatre’s Archive of Memories. They have amazing stories to tell and we’re looking forward hearing their contribution.”

Producer, Emma Barr said: “The performances and wider Shades of Tay project are brilliant collaborations between Pitlochry Festival Theatre and our local communities. The artistic sessions are especially designed for our Balhousie Care friends and their Activities Coordinators, after such an unimaginable time. It has been our pleasure to bring theatre, music and creativity back after such a difficult period. I hope the residents of the Balhousie Care Homes enjoy the performances as much as we have enjoyed making them, the Activities Coordinators feel invigorated, and we can’t wait to hear the residents’ special memories of the majestic Tay and its tributaries.”

Part of the ongoing aim for both parties is to develop the relationship into a long-term partnership, so that when actors are back in productions at Pitlochry they can return to perform in homes again on a regular basis.

Photo captions:

Top: Pitlochry Festival Theatre’s Rhys Anderson performing to residents and staff at Balhousie Ruthven Towers care home.

Bottom left: Pitlochry Festival Theatre at Balhousie Rumbling Bridge: l-r Activities Coordinator, Carol Young; resident, Alistair Stewart (played the piano accordion, with Jack Delaney’s band amongst others); Actor, Rhys Anderson; Associate Director, Amy Liptrott.

Bottom right: Pitlochry Festival Theatre’s Ali Watt at Balhousie Luncarty care home.

  • < ENDS >For media enquiries please contact Melanie Brockway on melanie.brockway@balhousiecare.co.uk or call 07492 163614.


    Notes to Editors
    For more information on Balhousie Care Group, visit www.balhousiecare.co.uk
    For more information on Pitlochry Festival Theatre, visit www.pitlochryfestivaltheatre.com

    About Balhousie Care Group

    Balhousie Care Group was formed 30 years ago to fill a gap in quality residential care in North East Scotland. Today, with 26 homes in the area, it is one of the leading providers of care for the elderly in Scotland, providing care to over 900 residents.

    Balhousie Care prides itself on its person-centred approach to care. Putting people right at the forefront of everything they do; it’s inclusive of everyone. They capture this philosophy through the roll out of ‘Together We’re Great’, an initiative which recognises the skills, talents, attributes and support areas for each and every person involved in the organisation. Together We’re Great aims to value individuality and promote excellence across the organisation.

    A Participation Charter – a first-of-its-kind in the care home sector – commits to residents getting a bigger say than ever in the care they receive, from writing care home policies to recruiting staff.

    Balhousie Care Group is the recipient of numerous awards. These include: three Scottish Care Awards; a 2021 Great British Care Award; 2019 Growth Business and 2018 Service Business of the Year at The Courier Business Awards; 2019 Growth Business of the Year Perthshire Chamber of Commerce STAR Award; and SME Scotland Business Man of the Year 2019 for Chairman Tony Banks.

    About Pitlochry Festival Theatre

    Pitlochry Festival Theatre (PFT)

    • Theatre for Everyone. Theatre for a Lifetime
    • Our mission is to create, nurture and inspire.
    • We actively seek to embody our values (empathy, respect, integrity, creativity, collaboration, inspiration) in all encounters and communications.
    • Established 1951, PFT offers a unique theatrical experience, operating a daily repertoire system in the summer which means that audiences and visitors can enjoy six different productions (all performed by a resident acting company) in six days.
    • The BOP/Whetstone Feasibility Study of PFT (2012/13), commissioned jointly by Creative Scotland, Perth & Kinross Council and Scottish Enterprise, confirmed the conclusions of the 2007/8 Economic Impact Study of PFT carried out by Scottish Economic Research: PFT makes an annual contribution to Scotland’s economy of between £13m and £20m, whilst every public pound invested in PFT produces a return of between £17 and £20.

    Address: Pitlochry Festival Theatre, Port Na Craig, Pitlochry, Perthshire PH16 5DR
    Box Office and group bookings: boxoffice@pitlochryfestivaltheatre.com

    Website: www.pitlochryfestivaltheatre.com