April 10 Wednesday Elders Share the Arts & SAGE Theatre Writing

IT IS SO HOT. It is 78 degrees which is about 22C. People in shorts.

Everything I brought is wrong. Everything. I have 2 pink t-shirts. The rest are 8C English weather necessities: The Coat, boots, heavy jumpers, etc.

Oh well.  I am going to Brooklyn. I have been cozy in Manhattan and getting quite smug about the transport system. Even getting back from SAGE to my digs requires the knowledge that there are 3 different 28th St stops that could take you ANYWHERE. But that’s kind of fun… if you don’t have to be anywhere – to be suddenly on the wrong side of Central Park.

But Brooklyn….. another country. So I worked it all out, left 1.5 hours and aside from a man shouting at me in the middle of…somewhere…… that I should have gone…. somewhere else and I should take a cab and it would cost me $50…. it was fine. (I didn’t take a cab and it was fine).

I was off to see an ESTA session in the New York Memory Center which sounds very shiny and corporate but in fact is the second floor of a fairly tumbledown college. Elders Share the Arts run a variety of different programmes and I am here (in Brooklyn, finally) to watch an improv programme for people with dementia. 

It takes my breath away. We laugh, and laugh. Valerie is an inspired leader. I am asked several times who I am. Once, I am asked, very acutely, “Are you one of her or one of us. I said I was neither, that I came from London. The Queen was discussed at length. 

We throw an imaginary ball. We are jungle animals. Finally, Valerie casts Cinderella and brings out the costumes, a major hit especially the flashing wand and sparkling slippers. Cinderella is punctuated by “I’ve Been Working on the Railway“, “You are My Sunshine” and anything else someone might like to sing. Which people join or not. But everyone laughs, laughs.

The session is mostly punctuated by Bob’s remark made at least 15 times: “We should be on television so they can turn us off!”

Valerie’s father was a mime artist I discover afterward and she comes from a solid tradition of improvisation and working with whatever happens. The session was a joyous place to be.

 

Afternoon another session at SAGE. They are running a group called the SAGE Theatre Collective two afternoons per week for two hours which is run by Michael. Monday is an acting and improvisation day and Wednesday a writing day. The Monday group will perform in the piece written by the Wednesday group.

It’s a great idea. I attended the playwriting day. Once again, about 10 people, of mixed sexes, who all are friendly toward one another. They are at the point in time at which they are choosing a theme and each had to create a “snapshot”: choose several characters and where they were. The interesting thing was that most people had something about death in their stories, which all found quite disturbing. Dead bodies all sprayed gold, dead body on a highway, funeral parlor with one person looking distracted.

“Why did we all write about death? I don’t like that”  “Cause we’re all almost dead.” Michael kept trying to bring the session back to a positive place but was finding it very difficult. I felt his pain.

And then the rain started. Shame – but at least I can wear different clothes and The Coat.

 

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