by Andrew Wilson
“Am I old?”
The question comes abruptly from the mouths of three women performing in Park Theatre’s Morris Space. There is nervous but supportive laughter from audience: after all, with a newly developed script called Ta6oo, it is hard to know where the trialogue might end up.
|Cast members Jeannie Davidson, Cori Josias and Rose Levinson after performing
their creation in the Morris Space.
Ta6oo is a recent project of Park Theatre’s Creative Learning Programme. The programme covers a wide range of approaches and audiences, from kids aged four to six in the Playground Players to the Reminiscence project for people affected by dementia and their carers.
The Ta600 project invited women over the age of 60 to participate in a week-long theatre course to create and perform a collectively written script about “Things We Don’t Talk About.” The piece unfolded in workshop format led by actor/comedian/writer Amy Allen, who also leads the Reminiscence project.
During the five days of workshopping, the group covered a number of foundation theatre skills such as voice work, movement, and improvisation, while brainstorming ideas and dialogue about subjects such as aging, identity and loss.
The final performance, a staged reading, features workshop participants Jeannie Davidson, Cori Josias and Rose Levinson, each of whom brought a very different life-experience to the mix. Davidson is Scottish, with a history of community activism and recent book behind her If It's Not One Thing, It's Our Mothers; Josias is a singer-songwriter and businesswoman; Levinson is a writer and blogger originally from California. The age range of the performers is from 61 to 76.
“I’m bold,” announces Cori towards the beginning. “I’m volatile,” confesses Rose. “I’m tricky...” says Jeannie with a broad grin and a what-can-I-do? gesture. The half-hour reading follows the twists and turns of their thoughts about the advancing years.
There are uncomfortable moments but also laughter, as when Jeannie says, “What I want is to be able to accept my aging, but for everybody else to see me as young.” The three women are confident and clear, reflecting the coaching of Amy who, according to Rose, is skilled at drawing “performances from players who are not professionals, helping them to discover the power of theatre.”
The Creative Learning Programme is midway through its autumn schedule, and gearing up for new offerings in 2019. Melli Marie, Park Theatre’s Associate Creative Director, notes that the Creative Learning Programme’s mission is to develop emerging artists and engage with the theatre’s local community. The Programme is always on the lookout for new ways to fulfil that mission, and invites people to email requests or suggestions to [email protected]k.