An Alzheimer's murder mystery: Winnipeg theatre company explores issues impacting seniors

A new Winnipeg theatre company knows you are never too old to feel the lure of the spotlight and the stage.

Geritheatrics is a theatre company specifically writing plays for seniors about seniors

Margaret Gwiaszda, left, joins CBC Radio's Weekend Morning Show host Nadia Kidwai and the other members of the Geri Theatrics theatre company Dawnie Hillstrom and Rick Caslake. (Karen Peters/Submitted)

A new Winnipeg theatre company knows you are never too old to feel the lure of the spotlight and the stage.

Geritheatrics aims to showcase the talents of older adults and tackle the issues and themes that seniors face.

"It's been very easy finding seniors that wanted to act. It's the production side that's a challenge. Everyone wants to be on stage," artistic director Rick Caslake said on CBC Radio's Weekend Morning Show on Saturday.

The company is performing Forget Me Not over the weekend, a play about a nurse in an Alzheimer's unit facing her own diagnosis of the disease. Caslake described it as an Alzheimer's murder mystery.

The play was written and originally performed as a solo piece by Rob Gee, a popular performer at the Winnipeg Fringe Festival. He performed his solo version of the play at the Winnipeg Fringe in 2013, which is where Caslake first became aware of the piece.

"We spent, the writing team, about two months doing the adaptation for large cast and being careful to maintain the respect that we have as a company for our audience, their families and their friends and for ourselves," Caslake said.

"Alzheimer's is a very difficult subject to deal with, keeping in mind there is humour even in the darkest moments of our lives."

Margaret Gwiaszda plays the head nurse and said the role has helped her think about the cycle of life.

"It's been quite a journey for me," she said.

While the play explores the challenges and quirks of Alzheimer's, Caslake said it also celebrates life, an experience he hopes makes its way into the audience.

"We hope it will leave them with a positive conclusion to take home. There is great love and great hope and wonderful care in facilities for people with Alzheimer's," he said.

The group's production of Forget Me Not runs until May 7 at the Lions Place Theatre at 610 Portage Ave. in Winnipeg.