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The Memory Ensemble

The Memory Ensemble is a collaboration between the Mesulam Center for Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease and the Lookingglass Theatre Company. It was conceived by Darby Morhardt (Mesulam Center) and Christine Mary Dunford (LTC) in late 2009 in response to an unmet need for challenging and supportive creative learning opportunities for people experiencing memory loss. This is a multiweek, improvisational theater experience for people with memory loss. Improvisational theater is a form of acting in which actors use techniques to perform spontaneously. Throughout the workshops, ensemble members learn to use their instincts, creativity and spontaneity as they work together to explore and create improvisational theater.

This program offers:

  • Social engagement
  • Safe, challenging and fun environment to engage imagination and creativity
  • Opportunity to learn new and helpful communication strategies and life skills
  • Enhanced coping skills and quality of life


  • No acting experience required
  • This program typically runs three times a year: early winter, spring and fall
  • Space is limited; the group typically caps at approximately 10 participants
  • There is a registration fee; however, scholarships are available
Prior registration and interview are required to participate. Please contact Darby Morhardt, PhD, LCSW at 312-908-9432 or

In the Media

“I am not sure that my memory has objectively improved, but I’m sure that my ability to cope with memory loss has improved.”- 2011 participant

The Glen and Wendy Miller Family
The program above is made possible by the generosity of the Miller family. Through their $1.25 million commitment, Glen and Wendy Miller and their daughter Lauren Izaks support the education and support programs for individuals and families living with neurocognitive disease, particularly the Buddy Program, which they have supported since 2008. In addition, their gift has helped establish the Miller Social Work Fellowship Program.

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