What is Senior Theater?


Senior Theatre reflects and expresses the changing definition of what it is to be a senior. The population of people 50 and older is rapidly increasing, and the members of this generation are healthy and active; many of them have the time and resources to return to an activity they have enjoyed before or to start an activity they have always wanted to try.

Senior theatre groups have grown in number from 78 in 1999 to over 400 in the past year, according to a recent article in Time magazine. Some of them do outreach to younger generations through oral histories of their lives, some keep vaudeville alive, and others like Bill Whitney Senior Players perform published plays and original works. Some groups memorize their lines, but scripts-in-hand theatre is becoming increasingly popular. Senior theatre groups are flexible enough to adapt to the physical challenges of some seniors, including movement problems and blindness.

What makes Bill Whitney’s work unique is that he teaches his actors to create and inhabit a character-while his productions are script-in-hand, it is much more than reading lines. His actors are taught to always “be in character”, reacting to the others when they themselves don’t have lines.

The essence of Senior Theatre is people discovering that they’re never too old to act and that they can play parts of people of almost any age. Time states, “Experts in health and aging agree that participation in the arts is a powerful antidote to the ravages of time.”

Plays Available for Bookings

* “A Little Crazy” by Joseph Hayes, 90 minutes, a warmhearted story of humor and wisdom.

* “Dinner Plans” by Vicki Bartholomew, 15 minutes, Women friends compare dinner plans and uncover a twist.

* “The Brute” by Anton Chekhov, 30 minutes, unlike his tragedies, this is a classic comedy by Chekhov.

* “Old Flames” 20-30 minutes, A woman’s fantasy: a woman’s 3 ex-husbands live with her much to the consternation of her indignant children.

* “The Challenge of Bureaucracy” 10 minutes, Have you ever had the occasion to telephone a government office and switched from one office to another. This is such a sketch extending out of this world.

* “The Birthday” by Vicki Bartholomew, 10 minutes, A poignant and charming play about a woman awaiting a phone call.

* “Snap N’ Beans” by Vicki Bartholomew,10 minutes, Sisters-in-law gossip about people in their small town as they snap beans to can. The men can’t resist joining in to gossip about their friends, as well.

* “Anna’s Brooklyn Promise” by D.K. Oklahoma, 80 minutes, 2 old friends meet for lunch and have an unusual encounter which calls for them to help a frightened woman.

Holiday Plays:

* “Just What They Wanted” by Mary Cunningham, 30 minutes, An absent-minded professor can’t remember where he put his wife’s present and all the complications that ensue.

* “There Really is a Santa Claus!” By local playwright Don Kludas, 30 minutes, A warm hearted play that takes place in a social room of a retirement center on Christmas Eve day with a surprise at the end.

*”Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy” by local playwright Arden Benson, 20 minutes.  A whimsical play about the meeting of two important childhood icons, with a surprise ending.

(All of these plays can be combined to make a longer program.)