Stroke Opera on World Stroke Day

Stroke opera shown in hospital and streamed for World Stroke Day 

Rehearsed and recorded across Zoom, I Look For The Think brings together sixty stroke survivors from London, Berkshire and Bristol with Garsington Adult Community Company 
The opera will premiere at Bristol After Stroke on 7th October 
For World Stroke Day on 29th October, the film will be shown at Royal Berkshire Hospital and streamed online 


At the height of the pandemic when vulnerable members of society were shielding, a community of the UK’s most isolated and vulnerable people came together online to create an opera about love after stroke. The sixty stroke survivors, supported by pioneering arts-health organisation Rosetta Life and by their carers, worked to overcome the physical and neurological difficulties that prevent them from using tools that most take for granted: keyboards, microphones, headphones and the internet. Together with professional musicians and the Adult Community Company from Garsington Opera, the participants from Bristol, Berkshire and London rehearsed and film a twelve minute  opera, I Look For The Think, based on the lived experience of participant Kim Fraser and his wife and carer, Sarah.  

On World Stroke Day on 29th October, the film will be screened at Royal Berkshire Hospital for staff and patients, and will receive a public streaming online at 6pm alongside the launch of Recovering Hope, the handbook for Stroke Odysseys, the arts health intervention that I Look For The Think is part of. The Facebook streaming of the event will be accompanied by a panel Q&A with Rosetta Life creative director Lucinda Jarrett accompanied by stroke survivors who participated and Sarah, the carer that the film was based on. The film will receive its premiere with anonline streaming 7th October as part of Bristol After Stroke’s Wellbeing Month. It will be accompanied by poetry and art from local participants, a talk from Rosetta Life, and a practical exercise.  

Composed by Orlando Gough, I Look For The Think explores the uncertainty and anxiety of being discharged from hospital after a stroke both for the patient and for the new carer, and the challenges of loving anew. For the patient, it can be a painful journey to find a new way of living with the altered capacity to move, speak and express themselves. For the carers, it throws up some heart wrenching questions of whether their new charge is the same person they fell in love with, and can they fall in love with the new person they’ve become? 

In June and July, participants from London, Reading and Bristol rehearsed across Zoom. The participants received sound recordings and video footage to watch before the group teaching sessions, then sent recordings of themselves to Rosetta Life to edit into the final film. The participants form the patients’ chorus in I Look For The Think alongside Garsington Adult Community Company as the staff chorus, a carers’ chorus drawn from the groups, and soloists Robert Gildon and Melanie Pappenheim. 

Rosetta Life was founded in 1997 to use arts in health innovation to change the way we perceive the elderly, frail, disabled, and those who live with life limiting illnesses. Their work with stroke communities, Stroke Odysseys,started as a song cycle developed as part of Derry, City of Culture 2013. Since then, Rosetta Life has produced Hospital Passion Play, which was performed at the Victoria and Albert Museum in 2017, Stroke Odysseys, which premiered at The Place before touring, choreographed by Ben Duke and composed by Orlando Gough. Orlando Gough is known for his operas, choral music, music for dance and theatre, and is a former Associate Artist at the Royal Opera House. I Look For The Think is an extension of Act 2 of Hospital Passion Play. 

Creative Director of Rosetta Life Lucinda Jarrett said, “The pandemic has compelled all arts organisations to change and often radically adapt their practices. We are grateful that it has given us an opportunity to bring all our ambassadors groups across the country to perform together in the short online opera I Look For The Think.  We hope that the Ambassadors will recognise that they are part of a growing national movement that puts their creative voices at the heart of the story of recovery.” 

Stroke Odysseys is one of three interventions, all of which have been proven to improve patient health, that will be trialed among larger groups of people within NHS hospitals as part of SHAPER, the world’s largest study into the impact of arts on mental health. SHAPER – Scaling-up Health-Arts Programmes: Implementation and Effectiveness Research – has been launched by King’s College London and UCL. The study also encompasses arts interventions Melodies for Mums and Dance for Parkinson’s. More information about the study can be found here

@RosettaLife | #ILookForTheThink | 

Company information 

Composed by Orlando Gough              Written by Lucinda Jarrett and Chris Rawlence 

Video direction by Chris Rawlence       Stage direction by Karen Gillingham 

7October, 10.30 – 12 noon 


29 October 

Online screening via Facebook, 6pm 

Screenings at Royal Berkshire Hospital (closed event) 

Companies information 

Rosetta Life was founded in 1997 to use arts in health innovation to change the way we perceive the elderly, frail, disabled, and those who live with life limiting illnesses. It is led by Artistic Director Lucinda Jarrett. Stroke Odysseys started as a song cycle developed with Orlando Gough and patients from Altnagelvin Chest, Heart and Stroke Hospital, Derry as part of Derry, City of Culture 2013. Rosetta Life’s past projects have included: The Art of Touch, a programme of movement workshops in dementia care and End of Life Care; Our Hearts in the Balance, a promenade performance at the British Museum performed by 11 people living with dementia; and Performing Ourselves, a touring exhibition of self portraiture developed in partnership with four hospices, two NHS Hospital Trusts and leading British photographers Tom Hunter and Clare Park.   

Garsington Opera have developed a programme of Opera and Wellbeing initiatives with the National Spinal Injuries Centre at Stoke Mandeville Hospital and most recently with High Wycombe Hospital Stroke ward, linking in with an Adult Company drawn from all levels of the local community. The Garsington Opera Learning & Participation Programme aims to demonstrate the benefits for wellbeing of the arts, as well as encouraging participation from those unable to engage with the arts easily as a result of difficult circumstances. Garsington Adult Community Company offers performance opportunities and encourages the development of new skills and friendships. This work is being developed in collaboration and partnership with Rosetta Life. 

Bristol After Stroke is an independent local charity helping people rebuild their lives after stroke. Their services offer a unique combination of practical, social, emotional and psychological support to stroke affected people and their carers and loved ones.  The onset of stroke is sudden and can turn people’s lives upside down overnight, their mission is to support stroke affected people adjust to life after stroke. Bristol After Stroke has been supporting people in the area for 37 years and is guided by local trustees, their services are managed and delivered by a small staff team, assisted by many willing and able volunteers.  They are a growing charity and last year they supported nearly 900 people. For more information on their Wellbeing month and to book for the premier of I Look For The Think visit their website here