Dementia Friendly Work

Capital Theatres is proud to be dementia friendly. Find out more about the background to our dementia friendly work, plus what’s on offer for people living with dementia, their family and friends.

Dementia-friendly performances

We are committed to creating a warm, welcoming and adapted environment that enables people to flourish, enjoy the arts and stay connected with the community around them.


Lauder, Mon 1 July, The Studio, 2.30pm

Jamie MacDougall stars in the story of Sir Harry Lauder, the Portobello boy who became a global superstar, the highest paid and most popular entertainer of his time. This rags to riches story is packed with all of Lauder’s hit songs, including I Love A Lassie and Roamin’ in the Gloamin’.

An exploration into the public and private personas of the legendary Scottish entertainer Sir Harry Lauder, this new production of the musical play is adapted by director Kally Lloyd-Jones and tenor and broadcaster Jamie MacDougall from the original script by Jimmy Logan.

Jimmy Logan wrote and starred in Lauder, which debuted in 1976 and toured around the world to great acclaim before being televised.

Scottish Opera's Tosca , Dementia-Friendly

Tosca Tuesday 19 November, Festival Theatre, 3pm

Sung in Italian with English supertitles. Presenter: Allan Dunn

In 1940s Rome, in the shadow of Mussolini’s tyrannical rule, the ill-fated lovers come to life against a backdrop of political corruption and intrigue. With Puccini’s music and Peter Rice’s designs providing a spectacular setting to equal the drama this superb production is beloved the world over.

These specially created performances are fully-staged, and performed by a narrator, The Orchestra of Scottish Opera, and a wonderful cast of singers. Audiences are lead through the story, and hear some of the best-loved music from the opera. Lighting levels are brighter, sound levels are lowered and people are able to move freely in and out of the auditorium during the performance to watch the show via live feed screens in quiets areas. 

Inclusive performances

Scottish Ballet The Snow Queen, Inclusive performance

The Snow Queen, Thursday 19 December, Festival Theatre, 2.30pm

Scottish Ballet’s 50th year will come to a spectacular close with the world premiere of The Snow Queen. Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s much-loved tale – which was also the basis for Frozen – this glittering new production will be set to the music of Rimsky-Korsakov, performed live by the Scottish Ballet Orchestra.

Choreographed by Christopher Hampson and designed by the award-winning Lez Brotherston, this story of love and friendship is sure to delight the whole family.

To make you feel welcome, relaxed and well-supported, we’ll have lots of trained staff on hand to help with any access needs, anyone can feel free to make noise and move around the auditorium, we’ll keep the lights on, but dimmed to reduce anxiety, and we’ll provide break  out spaces with a live stream of the show so that if people  feel the need to leave the auditorium they won’t miss the action.

Please note that this is an inclusive performance designed for people with a range of needs who benefit from a relaxed environment.

Tea parties with live music

Every month, we open up the Lafayette Bar at the Festival Theatre for a delightfully fun afternoon with tea, cake and live music. There is a different theme each time and entertainment by professional musicians to local community dance schools.  It’s a great chance for people to relax and enjoy their time together and whilst a sing along isn’t compulsory it’s certainly invited! Our warm and friendly staff look forward to welcoming you.

Mon 19 August: On World Photography Day help us to capture a moment in time of our beloved tea parties by filling our scrapbook with fun polaroids and memories of the afternoon. Knox & Ion, a guitar duo, will join us creating a mix of latin, world and jazz music, capturing the essence of world music with elements of indian scales, African beats and Brubeck style changes.
Mon 16 September: The Randolfi Singing Waiters will be here to entertain us with a mix of 40’s through to 70’s classics. Expect anything from the lullabies of Broadway to 007 themes, from Doris Day to Gershwin swing.
Mon 21 October: It’s Family History Month so please do bring along a photograph of your family and friends, to share your story with us alongside with music from Sarah, Jane, Grace and Barbara who are female acapella quartet, The All Sorts. Combining barbershop and classical arrangements, they perform anything from Motown to Lieder, opera to Disney.
Call 0131 529 6000 to book tickets. £2 per person and carer comes along free. Limited car parking can be booked by calling Stage Door on 0131 662 1112.

Drop-in Cafes

The drop-in café is an informal social gathering for anyone affected by dementia. Join us for tea, cake and a chat. We are also a Playlists for Life help point, so pop in and we can spend time with you creating ‘The Soundtrack to your Life’ if you like!

From time to time, we also welcome visitors from other organisations who chat about their activities and ways they support people living with dementia, their families and supporters to live well.

Festival Theatre Drop-In Café runs Wednesdays 26 June, 31 July, and 28 August, from 2pm until 3.30pm at the Festival Theatre Café.  

Playlist for Life

Capital Focus

Our first focus group of 2019 was a great success with 14 new members of the wider community joining us.
Are you living with or otherwise affected by dementia? We are keen to hear from more people living with dementia to help shape our dementia friendly community. You are very welcome to register interest to join our focus groups on 16 August and 15 November at 2-3.30pm. Alternatively, if getting to us isn’t easy or you are part of a larger community group, we can bring Capital Focus to you!

Tea, coffee and biscuits provided , travel costs can be reimbursed.

Drawn to Learn logo

The history of our Dementia Friendly work

In 2015, staff at the Festival and King’s Theatres noticed that people who had been avid friends of the theatres over many years had stopped attending performances and events. When we contacted them to say hello, we discovered a dementia diagnosis behind this change. Our friends no longer felt confident to visit us. At this point, we asked “what can we do as an organisation to enable people living with dementia to continue seeing performances, to remain an active and valued part of the theatre community?”

That same year, we applied for a three-year grant from the Life Changes Trust with the aim of creating and nurturing a dementia friendly community across our venues. Capital Theatres was successful and was awarded £321,000 over a three year period. This work has flourished, with an extensive dementia friendly buildings audit of the Festival Theatre and The Studio; dementia friends awareness sessions for all staff; creative artists training, and an extensive programme of dementia friendly performances and events in our venues and community settings. The project has worked with multiple stakeholders and partners to be able to deliver this vitally important work for people living with dementia. Over the course of the three years, we have programmed over 380 events and performances with over 7,830 participations.

We’re delighted that the Life Changes Trust has awarded continuation funding for our dementia friendly community from 2018-20. As we embark on the next chapter of this work, the core strands of our programme are:

  1. Opportunities for people living with dementia to access the performing arts as audience members;
  2. Opportunities for people living with dementia to participate in the performing arts;
  3. Training and advocacy, plus developing our volunteer programme & focus group.

We are also striving to promote positive engagement in our activities among diverse groups of people, including people who may not have a track record of engaging with culture and/or may face additional barriers to engaging with culture.

There are numerous resources around the city for those living with dementia and their families. For example, you can now check the Edinburgh Dementia Friendly Map to find out venues and cafes that establish themselves for those with dementia.