Bed was devised by older members of Entelechy Arts Theatre Group who wanted to make a statement about the invisibility they felt when going about their lives in public places.

Sometimes people look right through as if we aren’t there”.

They knew of many people experiencing loneliness and isolation. There are many stories that go unheard, many lives that are unrecognised. They wanted to redress the balance. They made Bed.

Bed is a street theatre performance devised by Entelechy Arts and our Older Peoples Drama Group.

Since it was conceived, Bed has toured to outdoor festivals, high streets, conferences and shopping centres around the UK from Dundee to Winchester.

On a Bristol shopping street stands an outsize metal bed. On it lies an elderly woman in night clothes, propped against her pillows. People walk by, hurrying, careless or sensing something weird: they don’t want to know. Others stop, concerned. Are you alright? Is someone looking after you? What are you doing here? The old woman responds by talking about her life. Her children who live far away in Leeds. The baby taken from her because she was unmarried. Her sorrows, her world. Memories. She asks for something tucked in the bedclothes; she talks about a photograph.

People gather round to listen. They join in. They talk about the parents they worry for, an elderly neighbour they’ve not seen for days; their losses.

‘I live on my own,’ says someone. ‘I’m on my own every night with these two dogs, and every day. It’s bloody lonely, you know. Nobody understands if they haven’t got family and I haven’t got family. It’s a brilliant idea doing this. My dogs keep me going. If it weren’t for them, well, I’d have jumped out of the window ages ago.’

This is personal. A real conversation is taking shape. As it does, the sense comes too that this is not life, but theatre. And yet it is deeply real, in that intense way art has of heightening what we already know and feel. True and untrue at the same time.

François Matarasso, A Restless Art 2017

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