Building Social Connection Through the Arts

Bob, Sobe, Bobbi ’17

St. Mary’s Care Center and the Verona School District’s Functional Vocational Program (VSDFVP) are joining together with TAPIT/new works Ensemble Theater to address a major public health hazard, striking as many as one in five people and linked to early death in older adults.

The health problem is loneliness, and the three partners are showing how it can be addressed with Six Degrees (At Least) of Social Connection, a new play, scheduled for touring performances throughout the area from April 17 through June 5, 2017.

These performances feature older adult residents of St. Mary’s Care Center and young people with disabilities from VSDFVP, who developed the script for Six Degrees (At Least) of Social Connection and rehearsed it under the guidance of TAPIT/new works’ producing artistic directors, Donna Peckett and Danielle Dresden, with support from St. Mary’s Care Center and VSDFVP staff.

The idea of “six degrees of separation” suggests that any two humans on Earth are separated by no more than six steps. In Six (At Least) Degrees of Social Connection, performers share their insights on how individuals of all ages can forge links to bridge those steps by reaching out, pursuing common interests, and more.

The 10 performers (five from St. Mary’s and five from VSDFVP) began working on the project six months ago, when they gathered at St. Mary’s for creative writing and drama workshops with Peckett and Dresden. These sessions provided the basis for the script, and additional workshops with visual artist Amy Cavi and music educator Julie Mazur further enriched the experience.

Performances are free and open to the public at:

  • Monday, April 17, 1:15 at Mary’s Care Center, 3401 Maple Grove Drive, Madison
  • Monday, May 1, 1:00 at Verona Senior Center, 108 Paoli Street, Verona
  • Thursday, May 4, 1:00 at Walbridge School, 7025 Old Sauk Road #!, Madison
  • Monday, May 8, 1:00 at Westminster Senior Housing, 6160 Dell Drive, Madison
  • Monday, May 15, 1:00 at Marquardt, 1045 Hill Street, Watertown
  • Thursday, June 1, 1:30 at Mary’s Adult Day Center, 2440 Atwood Avenue, Madison
  • Monday, June 5, 1:30 at Waterford in Fitchburg, Fitchburg

For details on additional performances, planned for Verona High School and other sites, contact TAPIT/new works.

Six (At Least) Degrees of Social Connection is made possible by support from the William E. and Edna B. Walker Fund for the Elderly, a component fund of the Madison Community Foundation; St. Mary’s Foundation; and the Wisconsin Arts Board, with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts.


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