In the absence of a cure for dementia, there is an increasing recognition of the need to develop approaches that address its key impacts of social isolation, depressed mood, and quality of life. In response to these issues, a three-year research project entitled Playful Engagement and Dementia: assessing the efficacy of applied theatre practices for people with dementia in residential aged care facilities was developed in partnership with Wesley Mission Brisbane. The paper reports on data collected within the pilot phase of this project, offering an alysis of the play vocabularies used by two applied theatre artists who interacted, using a relatiol clowning approach, with 17 residents with mid- to late-stage dementia. The alysis, based on two complementary frameworks, reveals useful insights into the key features of the approach, noting those that were effective in generating 'moments' of engagement and mutual recognition. How the applied theatre artists spontaneously, reflexively, and sensitively applied these vocabularies, tailoring them to each individual's play preferences, interests, and stage of dementia is also examined.
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