Julkaisu Jussi Lehtonen

Institutions of Love and Death: Shakespeare’s Sonnets in Elderly Care Facilities

In 2006, the Finnish actor Jussi Lehtonen created Rakkaus ei ole ajan narri [Love’s Not Time’s Fool], a monologue based on Shakespeare’s sonnets, which premiered at the Finnish National Theatre and then toured around various care institutions in Finland, e.g. assisted living centres for the elderly, dementia units, homeless shelters, drug rehabilitation facilities, psychiatric hospitals, and prisons, as well as theaters and schools. This chapter analyses the responses of elderly viewers to two broad themes raised in Shakespeare’s sonnets that have been seen as taboo subjects for the elderly: love, sexuality and loss, and ageing and death.

In a third section, we take up issues connected to memory loss and cognitive decline, demonstrating that Shakespeare’s sonnets provided a point of contact even for patients with severe dementia. Shakespeare’s sonnets became a means of integrating Finnish institutions of theatre and care, while providing elderly viewers with what they seemed to regard as a meaningful artistic experience, allowing them to resist the stigmatization of ageing. The analysis sheds light on the complex and sometimes contradictory attitudes towards Shakespeare and his sonnets in elderly care institutions in Finland, and perhaps also offers a model for theatre practitioners interested in bringing Shakespeare to care institutions.


Hankkeen tutkijat