There’s an elderly woman on an assisted living floor somewhere spinning carelessly to a song from her childhood. She’s young again, and she’s joyful, failing to notice the stares and gossip of her floormates.
Steve Little is playing guitar for her, and grateful for her grace. “Musicians love dancers,” he notes, and encourages the woman to keep moving. Through music, Steve moves the spirits of the elderly, and the audience fortunate enough to witness his sing-and-tell production, Dementia Melodies.
With some beautiful guitar riffs and heart-breakingly hilarious tales of his adventures, Steve Little brings his audience into the world of elderly care where he works as a performer for music-lovers old enough to remember Prohibition. He’s encountered grumpy medical geniuses, and long-retired airmen. He’s met women of war and of considerable means.
Each character’s heart and history emerges from his carefully woven stories, revealing what working for the joy of those alarmingly close to their final resting place looks and feels like. “Music lives in a place inside of us safe from the ravages of time,” he says.
Aware of the comedies and challenges involved in playing for a crowd of music lovers considerably past their prime, as well as the common fears of words like “dementia ward,” Steve recounts their stories with kindness and dignity. He further manages to present memories of loss and proverbial winter with the optimism of spring.
by Steve Little
at Caos on F
923 F Street NW
Washington, DC, 20004
Details and tickets
Steve’s gift of storytelling and optimism is inspiring, and his levity is transposed to the audience almost immediately, the reflection on our last days to hampering appreciation of our present ones. His use of simple but elegant puppets provide another layer of his creative professional world, and aid in some truly touching moments. Directed by Michele Valeria and Ingrid Crepeau, the piece shuffles easily between song and story, and feels like one tightly strummed chord.
Dementia Melodies is about fusing today and tomorrow, shaking free of the shame, the fear, and the loneliness. Life is for the living, his tales seem to say, and it’s up to you how much living you’re willing to do.
“I want to sing because I’m still here,” he exclaims, for the audience in front of him, and the audiences still tapping their feet in independent, assisted living, and dementia wards, their hearts forever speaking the vital language of music.