Gretna Theater Creative Aging Workshop
By Jessica Miller
Everyone has a story to tell, but not everyone has a group of actors and actresses acting out their story for all to see. On March 30, Gretna Theatre gave that gift to a few Londonderry Village residents through a performance based upon a five week Creative Aging Writing workshop held at the Village.
Designed by Gretna Theatre’s Managing Director, Joe Giardina, the Creative Aging Workshop is a project that explores the journeys we all travel in our lives. The goal is to reminisce, record the memories in writing, followed by sharing through personal readings and then retelling through a theatrical, monologue style, creative play experience.
“In discussing these programs with our Board,” says Giardina, “I was reminded of the stories my relatives told me about how my parents came to America and what life had been like for them in Italy. I thought that everyone loves to tell their stories and I am a great believer in lifelong learning so the two parts: engagement with the arts and telling stories felt like a perfect fit. When we think of history we usually think of the big picture. By capturing these stories of the lives people have led we get a chance to look at history through a smaller, more intimate lens.”
Each resident’s life experience is filled with stories of laughter, accomplishments, tragedies and blessings. Taking time to record the moments in your life provides a strong connection to the family and friends that surround each of us. A group of energetic residents volunteered to learn the joys of gathering their thoughts and writing their life stories down into words.
“I have all these goals in life, one was writing, painting, and when this came up I wanted to learn tips on writing. I love making people laugh and be happy. They [Gretna actors] were professional teachers and I thought wow! It was one of my goals and there it was.” says Edith Stuart, a resident who participated in the writing program.
At the end of the writing workshop, Gretna Theatre teaching artist, Janice Gunnells compiled the life stories into a performance piece. Gretna Theatre brought in 4 actors to perform the piece, in the DiMatteo Worship Center at Londonderry Village on March 30. The actors shared the journeys of these residents through what we call “A life well lived!”
Londonderry Village and Gretna Theatre have had the pleasure of partnering together on several occasions the last few years through housing actors when the Theatre couldn’t find housing for their summer actors, to Gretna Theatre performing <em>The Littlest Angel</em> in our DiMatteo Worship Center, to Londonderry Village sponsoring a summer play by Gretna Theatre. This year, Londonderry Village is proud to once again sponsor a Gretna Theatre summer performance of <em>Broadway Bound.</em>