Applause for the veteran actors who remind us we still have important roles to play
today at 8:00 am
On the first Sunday of each month a group of veteran actors and showbiz folks come together at the Prop Thtr under the marque WRITERS ALOUD. The format is simple: four or five members of the group take to the stage and read their work.
Since the event is at a theater, in front of an audience, here is the critic’s review from the aisle seat in row two.
Impressive display of talent and verve confirms
there is no expiration date on the joy of being alive.
It’s inspiring to watch old dogs play like puppies, doing the tricks they know so well. Between the lines of the sketches and autobiographical memoirs is the wisdom of perspective, the writing spiked with wit and wry humor to ease the inevitable pain. The common theme is renunciation of the corrosive notion that the actors are archaeological relics and an insistence that their voices remain relevant and listened to with respect.
Defying the wrinkles and the chronology, aging is viewed not as the ending but as the beginning of many compelling entries to be added to their list of credits in the Playbill of life. Being old enough to remember Bette Davis they are not oblivious of her famous line, “Growing old is not for sissies,” but they much prefer the more positive bromide, “How old I am is not as important as how I am old.” They share both the heartaches and the palliative, the ability to laugh at themselves.
For these Energizer Bunny seniors the issue is not feeling old; it’s making a daily effort to stay young in heart and mind. The theatrical group is an enviable example of what a number of scientific studies conclude, simply feeling younger has been linked to increased vitality and productivity, as evidenced by the writing and telling of their stories.
What adds to their likeability is the lack of presumption and self-importance, having realized that authenticity, not top billing, is the lasting homage. They don’t complain about no longer “being in the game,” they create their own, every first Sunday of the month.
Recap: Highly recommended: four stars.
I don’t think any of the men and women in attendance at the theater are readers of my weekly “Cheating Death” posts on the ChicagoNow blog, but these folks not only are cheating death they are defying it, brimming with life. I felt so privileged and inspired to be in invited to their group.
Being on the monthly program was a challenge, and a hoot. I read a piece about a time in my life that described a wildly careening, high speed personal bubble of time when I worked in New York. It was fun to share a slice of my life from those hectic years but the best part of participating was the charge of creative energy, the flutter of nervous excitement, the wonder of watching myself on stage as I turned ten minutes of real time into a glimpse of a colorful history.
It was incredibly energizing to be with contemporaries who are still playing in the game of life rather than sitting around waiting for the Time’s Up whistle to blow. It was a challenge to go on stage and read my story, but for me it was a metaphor for participating in life; a forceful reminder, to stay fully alive we must stay relevant.
It’s difficult to resist languishing backstage, particularly if you’re not a natural extrovert, but it is essential to put yourself out there, wherever ‘out there’ may be. It’s literally a matter of life and slow death.
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