And the Show Goes On

| April 6, 2015 | 0 Comments

Props went missing, the lighting person can’t do it anymore, the backdrop was inadvertently taken down, rolled up and stuck in an office…and now the lead has lost his voice. Problems? Yes. But to this troupe of seniors putting on “Guy and Dolls” these challenges were just what the doctor ordered.

It seems that research shows this is just the sort of thing that keeps a mind sharp as it ages. As a member of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UCSD I spend a lot of time with other seniors seeking an enhancement of life after retirement. This was my first time working on one of the many plays Osher puts on and it was a wonderful experience.

As a newcomer to theater world I wanted to just get my toes wet by acting as the stage manager rather than a performer. I was in charge of props, scenery and making sure the actors had what they needed. When I say props and scenery I am being generous. We perform in a classroom at UCSD using whatever we can come up with. One wall is our stage area and background. Chairs facing that wall are for the audience. Screens set up on either side provide a stage right and stage left for actors to enter and exit.

The performers come up with costumes made from combining clothes they already have with purchases of other needed items. Big purchases for “Guys and Dolls” were fake carnations for the gamblers, two bridal veils for the finale and a vinyl backdrop of New York City that was fastened to the wall with stick pins. Mink stoles for a musical number were represented by any kind of black wrap the women had at home. But it was all just fine, it gave exactly the impression they wanted.

As for what to do with the leading man losing his voice at the last minute? Not to worry. Because all of the productions are done as staged readings; the actors always have their script in hand. One of the actors in a minor role volunteered to step in at the last minute. So our stalwart substitute bravely went on in a role that required not only acting but also singing.

We postponed the play a few days to give him a little more time to rehearse and to give the original actor a chance to heal in time to come back for the second of a two day performance. No one in the audience was the wiser, the first performance was as well received as the second.

For me much of the joy was the fun of being with other people in my age group who were putting in as much effort in this as they had in their much credentialed career lives. Growing older gracefully depends on many factors. Of course health is paramount and that is a given. But we also need social interaction, challenges that exercise the brain, and a reason to smile and feel happy.

Engaging in classes, lectures and activities, Osher provides all of these. I saw a group of people who may just know each other to say hi in passing become a troupe of actors dedicated to each other and to the performance. Suddenly we were all friends working together to have fun, to solve problems and come up with a finished product we were proud of. We prodded our brain to learn lines, we laughed at our myriad of mistakes and we became a temporary family. In those few months working to put on this play, we challenged ourselves, we socialized and we had a wonderful time. Now on to my next role as the director.

Tags: , ,

Category: Entertainment

About the Author ()