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Seniors show their acting chops in Artful Aging performance

Hannah Swayze • Jul 8, 2018 at 4:30 AM

Art is for everyone.

A group of seniors proved that Saturday afternoon at the culminating performance of the Artful Aging Acting 101 workshop in downtown Johnson City’s Blue Moon Dinner Theatre.

“They were all very willing and eager to participate in the class, which made it fun for us,” said, Edward Breese, who taught the class with Moira Breese.

The performance included several scenes and monologues, some dramatic and some comedic. The audience was very responsive, yelling and applauding at the end of every scene.

Lisa Williams wears a lot of hats. She is a librarian at the Johnson City Public Library, the grant writer for the artful aging program and a participant in the Acting 101 workshop.

She said the program has a lot of health and social benefits for the participants.

“Before you know it, your world can kind of start shrinking a bit, and social engagement in this program is really important. They’ve shown that one of those huge health benefits for people is to remain connected to others socially; it’s great for your cognitive resilience.”

Williams, who said she hadn’t been onstage since she was in the sixth grade, enjoyed the process.

“It encourages people, too, to try something that maybe they always wanted to do when they were younger, and there are so many reasons not to. Plus, it’s a little bit scary to try something like this if you’ve never been on stage and all that kind of stuff,” Williams said.

The Artful Aging program is made possible by a grant through the Johnson City Public Library from Aroha Philanthropies. The grant provides seed money for two years of the program, which sponsors multiple in-depth art workshops for adults ages 55 and up.

Each art workshop lasts 8 to 10 weeks and culminates in a show of some kind.

In the Acting 101 workshop, eight participants met once a week over the course of 10 weeks to learn the art of acting. The classes included improv games and warmups like tongue twisters and trust exercises to open them up and build teamwork. They then dove into scene work.

Williams hopes the program continues much longer than the two years.

“We’re really hopeful as the profile of the program raises and more folks are aware of it we’ll get some donations and be able to keep going,” said Williams. “The library definitely has the will, and wants to keep this program because it’s just so important or people who are starting to get a little bit older.”

Upcoming workshops for the program include oral narratives, an intergenerational class and sculpture. Registration opens about six weeks before the start of the workshop and spaces are limited to about 10 participants.

For more information about the Artful Aging program, visit www.jcpl.org.

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