Project Theatre on dementia and depression

Research has shown that a taboo exists on the topics of dementia and depression among the elderly in the Euregio Meuse-Rhine (EMR). The partners in the Mental Health programme line needed an activity to get people talking openly about these topics.

Project framework Theatre NL

Final target group: senior citizens and their environment

Duration: 01 June 2014 until 31 May 2015

Project framework Theatre DE and BE

Final target group: senior citizens and their environment

Duration: 1 September 2014 until 30 March 2015

Focus of the project

The aim of the project was to get people talking openly about dementia and depression in the elderly. Setheater developed the theatrical performance entitled Forgotten & Submerged (about dementia and depression among the elderly) (V&V) as a low-threshold way of drawing attention to these topics.

Theatre tour in the EMR

At the start of 2015 the play was performed 62 times in Dutch Limburg, Germany, Eastern Belgium and Belgian Limburg. The play was performed in Dutch and in German. On each occasion professionals from the municipality chose who would be invited to see the play. The various performances were attended by people who themselves had been diagnosed with dementia or depression.

Once the project ended, the play was used in the Senior Friendly Communities (SFC) project. In the SFC project, the play was translated into French, so that V&V is available in all three EMR languages.

The follow-up discussion

A fixed part of the performance was a follow-up discussion, under the guidance of the actors. The public decided what would be discussed. This gave members of the audience a chance to share with one another their emotions, their stories and their questions. This was the most important element of the project.


During the project, it became clear that this is an effective method of inviting people to discuss dementia and depression among the elderly with one another. Many personal experiences were shared. The evaluations showed that the audiences really appreciated the play and the follow-up discussion. The taboo has been broken.

The play

The V&V play is suitable for everyone who wants to enter into dialogue with others about depression and dementia in the elderly. The play is performed both for a broad public and for groups of professionals or persons who are confronted with the topics.


This play makes the elusive, incomprehensible and taboo aspects of dementia and depression among the elderly more tangible. The play explores emotions and reactions that frequently result in the face of depression and dementia in the elderly. The audience is exposed to:

  • The elusiveness of the problems,
  • The impact it has on the elderly person and on their friends and relatives,
  • The inability or lack of courage to express the feeling this is not ever going to get better,
  • The lack of understanding from friends and relatives, resulting in awkward reactions, even offensive ones, or in no reactions at all.


Apart from the organisations involved in the Mental Health programme line, these projects also involved close collaboration with other organisations, including

  • nursing homes,
  • residential care facilities,
  • training courses for care workers,
  • patients’ associations, such as the Alzheimer Association (DE).

Thanks for the play. Hope it is put on in many places so that people get talking about depression and dementia.

Quote from a visitor in the province of Belgian Limburg (March 2015)



Vergeten en Verzonken (on tour)

April 16, 2015 - May 12, 2015


July 21, 2015

Theatre in the EMR