Take the Stage!
Did you know that many of our favorite performers draw on simple memories of family, childhood friends, pets and places to create the roles they are famous for? Take the Stage gives seniors the tools they need create a free performance about their own lives, using discussion, sense memory, and improvisation.
The purpose of this program is to empower seniors as artists. The relaxation exercises we learn can be used anywhere, and provide tremendous physical and emotional benefits. Disciplined relaxation relieves stress and promotes better, long-term physical and emotional health. Scene work & sense memory promote engagement and can help combat the effects of isolation that seniors may be vulnerable to.
Two 75 minute sessions a week culminating in a free public performance of scenes performed by New Yorkers aged 65 and up.
We feel that awarding prizes would not be in keeping with the spirit of this artistic endeavor. But a post performance reception is planned!
Authors include: Horton Foote, Maya Angelou, Neil Simon, Shakespeare, Chekov, and others who have changed the way we think about life’s journey.
Inaugural session begins with discussion of performances that have touched the participants deeply, whether on TV, film, music, stand-up comedy, or the traditional stage. There are no invalid answers — from Richard Pryor to Pavarotti, these moments share an element of truth-telling that we recognize right away. The performers have something in common too; a disciplined state of relaxation, openness, and a good story to tell.
These Method-based exercises relieve stress, promote better long term health, better sleep, and increased physical awareness. While seated, participants learn how to identify & eliminate tension, until they are fully relaxed. (20 mins to begin, less as progress is made)
The next step is a sense memory exercise. In a state of relaxation, each participant (seated, eyes often closed) physically & remembers an object or sensation. We may begin with the morning beverage — the weight and texture of the cup, the aroma, the temperature, etc. As the sessions progress, participants move on to remembering everyday things from the past: a certain perfume, a favorite pet, or the view from a long-ago window. (15 mins)
Marlon Brando famously used childhood memories of scent in his greatest roles. Every individual has different strengths and responses. These exercises tend to sharpen awareness of surroundings and objects, and increase participants’ engagement in daily life. What was strongest for you? The aroma? The sight? The touch? What surprised you? (10 mins)
Choosing a Scene:
Teaching artists may assign or ask participants to choose partners, and provide sample scenes and monologues to choose from to work on TODAY.
Writers include Horton Foote, Neil Simon, Maya Angelou, William Shakespeare, Edward Albee, Arthur Miller, and many more.
The material we work on today may be appropriate for the final performance, but in the initial weeks, the teaching artist clearly states that there’s still time to make changes. We’re not married to anything until week 12.
Participants read and discuss the scene together.
What True Thing does this scene say about life? What sensory choices might we make as we explore these characters? (10 mins)
Participants perform their scenes, followed by question and answer and assessment. (20-30 mins)
Performance of readings (about 45 minutes in length) of scenes chosen by the participants based on their class work followed by a q&a with participants, audience and panel. The final 4 classes will be devoted to rehearsing this program.
Participants are encouraged to make attraction to the materials the biggest factor in their choices, rather than age, race, or gender. For example, we’ve seen seniors choose Romeo & Juliet, with very moving results.
Take the Stage will be advertised
through fliers posted at local businesses, community activity boards, Frog & Peach’s mailing list, Frog & Peach’s social media sites, local churches and synagogues, and through the Actors Studio.
and many more
Frog & Peach company members Estelle Parsons and Austin Pendleton have expressed interest in participating as panel members.
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Frog & Peach Theatre was founded in 1996 by members of the Actors Studio to bring high quality arts enrichment to under-served New Yorkers. Discounted and free tickets to our accessible productions of Shakespearess plays have since made senior citizens a large component of our audience. Some arrive as lifelong theatre goers; many others arrive as skeptics, and leave as fans.
Critics and the public agree that the ensemble’s skillful acting is what makes Frog & Peach productions so accessible to so many different kinds of New Yorkers.
Artistic Director, Lead teaching artist & Frog & Peach co-founder Lynnea Benson is widely acclaimed for helping actors & students of all levels access their best work, whatever the material.