Noice and Noice (2013) Extending the Reach of an Evidence-Based Theatrical Intervention

literature type:

journal article


Heiga Noice and Tony Noice. Experimental Aging Research. 2013; Vol. 39, Issue 4: pp 398-418.


In Experiment 1, the authors investigated whether they could train retirement home activity directors with no previous experience in theatre to successfully execute an evidence-based 4-week theatre-arts intervention. In Experiment 2, they investigated whether an outside professional acting teacher who received only minimal training via e-mail and telephone could successfully execute the same intervention heretofore only carried out by the actor/director/professor who devised it.

A total of 115 participants (ages 68-94) in four different retirement homes were taught theatre arts either by their in-house activity director who had no formal training in theatre or a professional acting teacher recruited through a local community college. The intervention consisted of twice-weekly 70-min lessons for 4 weeks. After random assignment to experimental or waiting-list control groups, participants were given pre- and posttests on both functional and cognitive measures.

Experiment 1 showed that activity directors were able to run this intervention and achieve significant results on the 28-item functional measure (Observed Tasks of Daily Living, Revised [OTDL-R]) as measured by a mixed-design analysis of variance (ANOVA) and paired-sample t tests (p < .001), and on one cognitive measure, Means-End Problem-Solving (MEPS), as measured by a multivariate ANOVA (MANCOVA) and follow-up univariate ANOVAs. Experiment 2 (outside acting teacher) used the identical measures and revealed significant results on the OTDL-R (p = .002), word recall, MEPS, and verbal fluency (η²(p) ranging from .28 to .59).

This study addressed the feasibility of training multiple instructors of varying experience to administer this theatre-arts intervention. Previous iterations had all been administered by the professional actor/director/theatre professor who devised the program. These current results demonstrate that widespread administration of this short-term (4-week) evidence-based intervention is feasible.


arts categories:

theater arts

population(s) served:

older adults