I Won't Grow Up (2015+)
This multi-year project begins with intergenerational, creative discussions about the meaning and value of childhood. First piloted in collaboration with the Milwaukee's Creative Trust, the project explores the meaning and value of childhood at any age. This project is currently evolving into multi-year collaboration with 12 nursing homes in rural Kentucky that will yield 3 Creative Festivals in the spring/summer of 2019. Follow the project's evolution on its FB page.
Beyond Memory (2017)
In 2016-17, TimeSlips brought its Creative Community of Care organizational training to 50 nursing homes all across the state of Wisconsin. Each home learned creative storytelling and how to shape creative celebration events. Gathering 100s of stories from all 50 nursing homes, the TimeSlips team selected 5 stories and collaborated with elders and artists to choreograph them, read them aloud, and shape them into an interactive performance that taught the audience both the joy of storytelling with elders and basic creative engagement techniques. Created with support of NEA ArtWorks, Beyond Memory is now a keynote/performance available for conferences and events around the world.
Slightly Bigger Women (2015)
In the fall of 2014, I collaborated with UWM Intro to Women's Studies Instructor Casey O'Brien and the elders of the Creative Trust to create a cross-generational letter exchange exploring how our dreams of who/what we might become have changed since the 19th century, when Little Women's Jo March dared to dream of being a writer. The exchange proved to be a rich experience for all ages. I also held workshops in the Creative Trust sites exploring "What does it mean to be 'ladylike?' or 'a gentleman?'" What historical shifts changed what we can dream of becoming? What changes still need to take place? These questions informed the creation of an original performance/dialogue that was staged on the UWM Theatre Department season, opening April 22nd. Student Tina Binns was my co-writer. I directed along with student assistant Devlin Grimm.
The play began with a Brechtian twist - as the characters of Little Women bumped up against the limits of the novel and the 19th century. In the second scene, they open their hope chests to find them filled with voices of the elders from the workshops and the letters from the cross-generational exchange. In the third scene, the lights come up to suddenly reveal another portal to the future - the audience. The characters bravely engage them, asking "what still needs to change for us all to reach our potential?"
The Islands of Milwaukee (IOM) (2012 - ongoing)
IOM is a participatory arts project aimed at bringing creative engagement to older adults living alone or under-connected to community. IOM was created in collaboration with co-lead artist Maureen Towey of Sojourn Theatre, and with a team of community partners, including: Milwaukee County Dept on Aging, Interfaith Older Adult Programs, Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Wisconsin, and Stowell Associates.
Together we created the Question of the Day system to bring a creative inquiry to older adults. Answers poured in by hand-delivered card, email, FB, and voicemail. Out of these riches, we created 21 radio segments, two performances, an art installation, and a series of "artistic housecalls."
MAP Fund; NEA ArtWorks; the Helen Bader Foundation; the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee's Research Growth Initiative. Princess Grace Fellowship; the Greater Milwaukee Foundation.
The installation opened in conjunction with Milwaukee's city-wide Doors Open event in September, 2014. 10-minute performance each hour engaged passersby with the exhibit, inviting them to explore and ask a stranger a "Question of the Day." The ground floor featured visual and audio stations inspired by elders we met through the project. "Connection lines" led up from each station to a panel on the 2nd or 3rd floor that describe how we met that person, and interactive question stations.
The Crossings (2014)
We were inspired by the social isolation we encountered in our visits with Home Delivered Meals. Many older adults receiving meals live across the street from food sources. But the street, to a disabled elder, was completely impassable. We (me and Sojourn Theatre) partnered with Southshore Connecting Caring Community, a senior advocacy group on Milwaukee's southside, to amplify their efforts at promoting pedestrian safety with a performance event that would draw civic officials and press. We performed Crossings at three intersections in three different municipalities, Milwaukee, St. Francis, and Cudahy. Mayors from all three municipalities joined us, alongside elders and student and professional performers. To learn more, visit the Crossings page of the Islands of MIlwaukee website.
This multi-year collaboration between UWM, Sojourn Theatre, and Luther Manor aimed to improve the quality of life for all who live, work, and visit a long term care facility through creative engagement. Over a two-year period, partners explored the story of Penelope in Homer's Odyssey through creative discussions and shaped those discussions into a professionally produced play that moved throughout the care facility. I served as producer, writer, and instructor for the three-semesters of student involvement (with colleague Robin Mello). The project received significant funding, including a MAP Fund grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Trust and the Rockefeller Foundation, and was surrounded by a comprehensive evaluation plan. The Penelope Project is the subject of a PBS documentary and a book, now available from University of Iowa Press.
Video and Photographs
TimeSlips Creative Storytelling (1998-current)
TimeSlips is a non-profit that brings dignity to aging through creative engagement. TimeSlips offers training resources for infusing creativity in everyday care relationships (Creative Connection); creative activities (improvisational storytelling); and community building projects. Its online training in improvisational storytelling has certified facilitators in 39 states and 12 countries. The ritualized steps of improvisational storytelling are easily learned, practiced, and shared. Research shows that the method makes a significant improvement in the quality of life of people with dementia and the attitudes of care partners.
TimeSlips resources include:
- A website with over 100 inspiring prompts for creative projects (2011)
- An online training in improvisational storytelling (2011)
- A Creativity Journal for families and one-on-one use (2015)
- A full-size story kit for families and practitioners
- A webinar series featuring innovations by TS Certified Facilitators across the world
- Training in Building Creative Communities of Care (online or in-person)
TimeSlips has also created multiple, public celebrations of the stories told by people with dementia. These include:
- 2016 Moving Images - an interactive performance of stories from 42 elders and 18 student facilitators in Milwaukee featuring the voices of the elders reading their stories and choreography by professional dancers (directed by Angela Fingard, performed at Bader Philanthropies)
- 2015 Moving Images - an interactive performance of stories at the 5 Museum Mile cultural institutions, Milwaukee (directed by Joan Williamson).
- 2014 Moving Images - an interactive performance of stories at the 5 Museum Mile cultural institutions, Milwaukee (directed by Angela Fingard).
- 2011 TimeSlips is Community Artists in Residence in Hiding Places: Memory in Art at the John Michael Kohler Art Center, Sheboygan, WI.
- 2005 Full production of the play TimeSlips by the Door Community Auditorium, Door County, WI(Basting is playwright)
- 2001Full production of the play TimeSlips. Director Christopher Bayes. Performed at Here Art Center, New York. (Basting is playwright)
- 2001Art exhibit featuring BethThielen’s playful 12-foot figures from the TimeSlips stories. Elsa Mott Ives Gallery, New York. (Basting is curator)
- 2000 Full production of the play TimeSlips. Director Gulgun Kayim. University of Wisconsin Milwaukee. (Basting is playwright)
- 2000 Art exhibit featuring photographs of storytellers by Dick Blau and pop-up books of the stories by artist Beth Thielen. Charles Allis Museum, Milwaukee. (Basting is curator)