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It’s fun being someone else

Wind Crest reader’s theater

Created date

January 22nd, 2013

When John Jack Liggett moved to Wind Crest from Bartlesville, Okla., more than a year ago, he saw an opportunity to create an on-campus theater experience. While there was a group that read and analyzed plays, they did nothing along the lines of performance. So he took the reins; a year later, Wind Crest s reader s theater is celebrating its one-year anniversary. Jack has more than 40 years of experience in community theater and several years in a senior theater troupe. He says older adults tend to shy away from theater groups for two reasons: first, they could get nervous about having to memorize lines; and second, mobility is sometimes a concern. That s why a reader s theater is perfect for adults of every age participants read from either a book or a script.

Learning through pretending

Jack has always been attracted to the notion of being someone else through acting. I ve always said, John pays the bills and Jack has all the fun, he says about his given name and nickname. Through performing community theater, Jack was able to embrace his whole self. Theater is a great outlet, he says. If you ever want to work out your frustrations at the end of the day, pretend to be somebody else. The benefits of participating in a group like this aren t merely educational and social it s good for the heart too. Every actor, whether seasoned or first-time, is a ham, Jack says; at the close of every six-week session, the group performs in front of friends and neighbors to get the giggles and applause that every actor deserves. After all, once you ve done something and gotten a little applause, life is never the same, Jack says. As a director, Jack understands that along with his actors, he s learning as well. You have to listen to the people around you. Acting is a matter of choices. There s really no right or wrong answer, he says. To him, acting is all about perspective, how his actors see the character and how they implement what they see. Jack s role aims to help his fellow residents get into the characters heads, and he encourages them to keep trying things until they find something with which they re comfortable. Because he s been acting for decades, he knows that the craft is all about trust trusting how you see the material and then trusting your fellow actors to support your interpretation.

Age is just a number

Age seems to melt away during the reader s theater group, and that s part of the fun. When the residents rehearse or perform, they become the character the granddaughter or grandson, the young bride, the 70-year-old; it doesn t matter. The focus is on the interpretation of the character, Jack says. And during reader s theater as opposed to staged theater, the focus really is on the listening and how the actor chooses to interpret the character versus on the action. The reader s theater group meets every Friday and has 20 active members, with 30 on the mailing list, and they encourage those interested in reading and performing to join. During the six-week session, residents choose which plays they re going to read and analyze and interpret the material material by Mark Twain to Neil Simon is readily available. Group members practice on their own throughout the week, then meet again on Friday. The final week, they perform, inviting neighbors and friends.