top of page



The Block Theatre begun their tour in nursing home units in Salo, Finland, in October 2016, in Ahola nursing home, and the last stop was a show for caregivers at Perniö Nuketteri / Cultural House Levola in December 2016. Each show was also open for the children in local day care centres and family day cares. The tour consisted of ten Block Theatre shows and workshops, each one a shared experience for the elderly and the children.


The aim was to offer both the nursing home residents and the children content that was artistic, therapeutic, and inclusive at the same time. The positive, enthusiastic feedback tells us the mission was accomplished, and we also saw the vast importance of the intergenerational encounters. During the two months nearly 400 elderly people, children, and caregivers saw the Block Theatre.


Feedback on the Block Theatre:

“The children should definitely get more of brain-twisting like this, and why not the adults as well!”


“Let’s take out the blocks when we get back to the day care, we haven’t played with them in ages!”


“A wonderful show, the blocks really came to life! I’m sure we’ll be playing with the building blocks in the future.”


“The elderly really enjoyed the show, the creativity, and the lack of rush. Thank you!”


“Block Theatre was something quite new, and a lovely experience for sure!”


Notes from the Block Theatre artist’s diary during the tour: On the Block Theatre tour the kids were something to look at and to hear for the old folk, and vice versa: it’s not that many of today’s kids that have a 80- or 90-year-old in their family, and many of the old people living in institutions only rarely get to meet small children. One preschool kid met a 100-year-old person for the first time. The kid marveled at the lady’s wrinkly hands and the big family she had build from the blocks, and said: “My granny is dead, but she was like 300 years old.”


The Block Theatre shows inspired enthusiasm and wonder at each stop. During the performance, the kids had the permission to whisper out the characters and objects they recognized. There was also plenty of laughter, both from the kids and the older people in the back row. The people living in nursing homes are in varying conditions: some might not see too well, some might have trouble hearing, some could wonder where they are. Regardless, I got the sensation that each and every one got, in their own way, to experience the Block Theatre. Everyone could participate in the workshop, whether it was just by looking or listening to the children’s voices, or by rolling a few blocks in their hands.


Oftentimes the mere joint presence turned out to be most important. However, many elderly were actively building with the blocks with the children, and there were delightful encounters. For instance, one lady took charge of the situation and instructed the children to build the city hall, the river and bridges, and built a ship floating in the river herself. Another 99-year old built a high-rise where they had lived on the second floor, and a jungle gym, because they had liked climbing.


One task was to build a block family, and it was met with amazement every time: the kids couldn’t believe anyone could have 10 siblings! At the end of the show the children had the chance to create riddles for the audience on the Block Theatre stage. As one kid was building, the others sang a song together, and sometimes even some of the elderly joined in. Everyone got to voice their own interpretation of the riddle. The same performance was seen by a 1-year-old and a 101-year-old, and it seemed meaningful. For some it was the first theatre performance of their lives, for some maybe the last. In some places, the audience was already there waiting while I was building the stage. The preparations turned into an introduction and a chance to get into the mood; we would chat and exchange pleasantries, I would explain the theatre technique while mounting the lights, and occasionally someone would start singing. For example, at Halikkokoti nursing home, one resident started a song, then another joined in, and soon enough someone was singing the same tune from the room next door.


Aside the show and the workshop, there was one element that turned out to be surprisingly important: the guestbook everyone got to sign at the end of the show. It was as if writing one’s own name was equally significant to children and the elderly. It didn’t matter how far forgotten was the penmanship, or how unsure the scribbles, as long as everyone got to leave their mark. People living in nursing homes rarely get to sign anything, and one nurse even commented on this: “We should really start signing something more often here.”


The Block Theatre is such a rich art form, because everyone experiences and interprets it in their own way. The neutral wooden blocks stir the imagination and stir the brain cells. This is how the viewers in Salo interpreted the last scene in Block Theatre: a man, a robot, a castle, an oast, a Knight of the Mannerheim Cross, a father with two sons, a temple, a church, a tower, a footballer, a girl, a boy, a tree full of bird’s nests, a rocket.

Palikkateatterin kiertue Salossa: Projects
bottom of page