UWM Theater Professor Anne Basting wins MacArthur Fellowship

UWM Theater Professor Anne Basting wins MacArthur Fellowship


[Music fades in and continues throughout] Moderator: Hi Paul. This is your first time. Hey Pat, are you going to be OK with everyone
here? Anne: TimeSlips is really pretty simple —
it’s improvisational storytelling. Moderator: So, we’re going to write a story
today. Are you up for it? OK. Anne: There is no set course for the story. It all comes from the participants themselves. Moderator: To start off, can you tell me what’s
going on in this picture? Unseen answer: They’re hugging. Anne: It’s a radical shift for people with
memory loss because our first impulse is actually to go right to memory to try to heal the person. Moderator: Why do you think they’re happy? Participant: Because it’s their wedding anniversary. Moderator: Oh, it’s their wedding anniversary. Anne: And this is particularly powerful for
people whose ability to control language is fraying. It’s giving them back that tool to connect
with people again. Participant: He has decided that from now
on, the next 50 years, I’m going to be the boss. (Laughter) Anne: The first moment that I realized that
something was unique about this method, it was actually kind of a moment of desperation. I’d been trying all these memory-based techniques
and they weren’t working, and so I just tore a picture of the Marlboro man out of a magazine,
and I had a big sketch pad like this and I said, say anything you want. Let’s make up a story. Unseen moderator: He thinks, underline, he thinks
he’s going to be the boss. (Laughter) Anne: The second I figured out that that
worked, that’s all I did for the next 12 weeks. I just did the same thing over and over and
over again just to see if I could re-create that, and in some ways I’m doing that 12 years
later. And, in fact, it works every time, I’m here
to say. Beth, Luther Manor: Anne is one of those creative
visionaries. Sometimes Anne will come to me with an idea,
and I have absolutely no idea what she’s talking about and just have gotten to the point of
saying, fine. OK. Because I know its going to be great. I just know it’s going to be great Anne: And sometimes the memory doesn’t come
as easily. Participant: Yeah, yeah, its rough. Anne: So, you feel comfortable kind of sharing
whichever way it comes out. Beth: I mean, Anne is absolutely a star in
this community, but she’s also a star nationally and internationally. Anne: You know the magic of this is that there’s
no planning. Participant: No. Beth: I think it’s her enthusiasm and her ideas
and her belief that we should have high expectations of the imagination and the creative spirit
of people with dementia. She’s always pushing us in a good way to think
bigger and to think something that can really revolutionize and reinvent long-term care. Anne: It’s not up to me. It’s your story. (Laughter) Anne: I think UWM, for me, the most important
thing about working there is this feeling that you can make it happen. I have a career of working in the cracks of
in between things, in between departments, in between disciplines, in between university/community. It’s a really ripe community for making those
kind of things happen, those kind of projects happen, those collaborations, and it’s a place
that has a need for it too. There’s an enthusiasm for that kind of work
and acceptance for it and open doors, frankly. Moderator: So, how are we going to end our
story? Anne: I think I love what I do because it
allows you to tap almost immediately into the essence of humanity. Moderator: Bernie says, when does my control
start? And Juliann says, That’s what you think. Anne: Sitting in on this story today, there
are still moments of magic. Participant: Hallelujah, thank you, God! Moderator: Very nice, very nice, good story! (Applause) [Music fades out]

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