Age Friendly Edmonton’s Knowledge to Action grants were created to tell the stories of people in this city working together to make our community a place that values, respects and supports the well-being of seniors. With the assistance of a writer, each organization created a “storybook” to capture their work.
The GeriActors embarked on an intergenerational playwriting and teaching initiative. They wrote and performed new plays that viewed growing older from multiple generations. In addition to playwriting they worked with a high school drama class and created a teaching manual to help prepare more people to be able to facilitate experiential intergenerational theatre storytelling.
“We are the GeriActors & Friends, an intergenerational theatre company. We write plays based on true stories and issues from our lives. Ladies and Gentlemen, please enjoy the show!”
The GeriActors & Friends is currently made up of 16 seniors and 5 Friends. This spring we have performed in Edmonton, Stony Plain, and Hanna! Join us for our last show of the year, see what we’ve been working on, and meet the cast!
In collaboration with Age Friendly Edmonton, the GeriActors & Friends have written 5 NEW plays! With stories about family, history, love and dating, ageism, abuse, and maintaining our health and independence these plays explore what it means to be a senior in Edmonton.
Be Careful – Renovations, bank loans, blueprints, and more. The lengths we go to keep our family safe.
Claire & Jacob – From the 60’s to today four people share their stories of coming out.
Reading the Signs – Just as they are inventing rear view cameras, warning buzzers for changing lanes, self-driving cars, and car-sharing deals, I have to give up driving.
Sanctuary – A play about elder abuse and finding your sanctuary.
Delanie took Drama 427/507: Intergenerational Theatre and volunteered with the GeriActors & Friends Thursday afternoons from September to December. Along with her fellow classmates, she collaborated with the GeriActors to share stories, explore intergenerational experiences, and develop a short presentation that was performed at our annual Holiday Celebration in December. Delanie also developed a final project based on her own family. Read below for her thoughts on the course and developing her final project.
Describe your experience volunteering with the GeriActors & Friends.
I found that this was a wonderful experience for me to learn to lead, as I was given the opportunity to lead warm-up exercises and even a project, and for me to learn about multi-generational interactions. I learned the GeriActors style, which is a wonderful way of storytelling, and a wonderful new way of acting that I have not done before, such as acting out inanimate objects. I also made a lot of great friends that I enjoyed talking to every week.
What is one thing you learned or discovered in this class?
I think one of the main things I learned was how to collaborate in a group and do performer-created theatre. I learned some tools, such as always saying yes and “yes, and,” that really helped to hear every group member’s ideas and to work as a team.
What would you say to future GeriActors students?
I would say to keep an open mind. I learned things that I never expected! I also think being open-minded gives you the flexibility to work with your group and see where you go as a team, rather than trying to control the outcome.
Tell us a little bit about your final project.
My final project was on my family; we have 4 close, living generations. I wanted to celebrate each generation and how we have all evolved within our family. I interviewed my grandfather, great-aunt, mother, father, and two sisters on their feelings and experiences of evolving within our family and put together an Emaze presentation that celebrated these thoughts. Some thoughts included how responsibilities change as you evolve to a different generation, how the focus of the family shifts when a new generation is born (my nieces and nephews) and how we are lucky to have so many generations and to be so close. I include a video at the end of my grandfather telling the Christmas story, as he does every year, to three other generations.
How did you come up with the idea this project?
I am very close to my family and I feel that we put a lot of value on how we all relate to each other. I also found the experience of my niece being born and how I went from being the youngest, center of the family, to now the 2nd generation to be very important to me.
What went in to putting your project all together?
I did interviews with my family members, so that meant driving out to Tofield and spending a few hours with each person. I recorded the interviews and listened back on them to take out quotes that I wanted to include in my presentation, paying attention to any themes of ideas that were coming from multiple people. I then went through family photos, which luckily were readily available because my father is an avid photo taker. Finding photos that worked for what I wanted to show, the four generations, was very time-consuming though. I then put the quotes and pictures together in the slide-show. I included the video because I think it really shows what I am trying to express: our four generations being close and together.
What do you hope people take away from this project? Where do you see it going next?
I hope that this project inspires others to look at their own family and appreciate the ties that they have. Maybe it could inspire some people to get to know their family better or to showcase their own evolving generations. I made this presentation on Emaze because this is an internet-based program, so to share it with all of my family members, all I had to do was send them the link. So it is a very portable and accessible project, which was important because I had 11 people that I wanted to have a copy of it.
Join us at the Creative Age Festival, June 4-6 and take part in one of our amazing arts workshops including: Watercolours or Acting Shakespeare!
Watercolours with Willie Wong
Thursday, June 4 from 6 – 8pm
North Edmonton Seniors Association (7524 139 Avenue)
Watercolours made easy. Join renowned Edmonton artist Willie Wong in this 2-hour workshop, designed for all levels of experience, as he walks you through the basics of painting with watercolours. Cost: $15 (all materials included)
Acting Shakespeare with David Barnet
Friday, June 5 from 1 – 3pm
North Edmonton Seniors Association (7524 139 Avenue)
Try out Juliet or Lear – it’s easier than you think! Play and have fun with the bard with award-winning teacher David Barnet. Cost: $15
And that’s not all – there are 7 more workshops to choose from:
Pottery with Elaine Kwan
Memoir Writing with Shirley Serviss
Performance Storytelling with GeriActors
Handbells with Wendy Hoskin
Musical Improvisation with Grindstone Theatre
Dance and Physical Storytelling with Amber Borotsik & Shula Strassfeld
African Drumming with Deborah Bortscher
Taking a Creative Age workshop is a great way to meet new people, learn something brand new, expand your current skills, and have fun!
For more information and a complete description of each workshop visit the Creative Age Edmonton website and take a look at our Festival Guide. Workshops are filling up fast so call NESA (780-496-6969) today to reserve your place. Lunch is provided to all workshop participants free of charge.