The Pavilion Report January 2020 – by Pavilion Team Lead, Rosalie Bird
5. Elder Clowning: I’d like to introduce you to Gracie, aka Celesttina Hart. Her participation grew out of attending a FDD performance where the idea of Gracie was born. I have been working with her closely since September and have seen Gracie materialize. Celesttina has experience as a clown theatre performer as well as actor, theatre creator and singer/songwriter and Clown teacher. She had been involved in music and comedy for 15 years before she first stepped into Clown World in 1987 with Cheryl Cashman (Canadian director, actor, teacher & writer) via the work of Richard Pochinko (Integration of European and Native American traditions with Clown and Mask). She continued to apprentice the work with Cheryl Cashman in 1988 and 1989). In summer of 1989 she studied clown theatre with Ronlin Foreman at the prestigious Dell’Arte School of Physical Theatre in Blue Lake California. She returned for Dell’Arte’s second year program in 1994 where she studied with various Clown Teachers from around the world. (Geoff Hoyle, Gina Bastone, Joan Mankin, Alain Schons, Jeff Raz, Avner the Eccentric, Julie Goell, Joan Schirle, and again Ronlin Foreman). She says” I stepped into the door, a leap into the unknown. Gracie has songs to sing, ears to listen, props to play with and is open to improv in the unknown.” Celesttina fortuitously is also a trained hospice volunteer.
Celesttina has lately been researching the cutting edge work going on around humour and dementia and has begun to put her skills into practice. I accompany her once a week and we work one on one with a specific resident chosen through staff consultation. Anne Weir, the Pavilion administrator is enthusiastically on board and certainly staff are as well. Faces light up at the sight of Gracie. You can’t help but smile.
She and I are kicking around concepts now about how to expand the initiative. In the elder clowning movement Laughter Bosses are trained staff and volunteers who accompany the professional clowns. We predict a clown workshop facilitated by Celesttina with a special focus on dementia in our future. We already have had considerable interest in staff and among our volunteers.
6. Every second Sunday at 10 am Turner Zion United Church holds what we have come to call Pavilion Church. I facilitate that myself as a church member to act as an interface with staff and residents. It’s been a great success with a growing congregation and church folk making new friends within the facility. It’s even spawned new hospice associates, always good news. Several have indicated they will take the scheduled spring volunteer training.
7. Walking Companions: At this time we have volunteers taking walks with only two individual residents. I envision a more organized program where (weather permitting) for regularly scheduled walks we coordinate with staff to have residents prepared and a team of walking companion volunteers.
The Pavilion is where one of the hospice rubber tires meets the road. We can be proud of it,
Rosalie as Pavilion Team Lead