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RSS FeedIntroducing Sage Theatre Works!
Monday, July 6th, 2015 03:34 PM

by Anita Dacanay

The Administration and Board of Still Point are thrilled to announce the creation of a NEW branch of our outreach programming! This program, Sage Theatre Works, provides theatre programs for senior citizens in the Chicago area.

In the fall of 2014, Still Point Founding Artistic Director Lisa Wagner-Carollo received a call from Gina Jung, who is a former Still Point volunteer. Gina is with the Benedictine Sisters of Chicago, and approached Lisa about leading a theater program for some of the older women at the Infirmary of the Benedictine Monastery on Ridge Road. The class began as a small group of six retired sisters, supported by two aides. From the beginning, members of the group delighted in the unique opportunity for creative expression. Dubbing themselves The North Wind Players, the troupe put on their first performance in March of 2015. Musician Veronica Garza contributed her talents by adding guitar and vocals to the performance, and she is scheduled to do the same for the next North Wind Players presentation, which will occur on July 15. After the success of this pilot program, an additional ongoing workshop for seniors began in June of 2015 at the Bethany Retirement Center in Ravenswood.

Lisa recalls that she grew up watching seniors perform in a Community Theater Group in Kansas City called the Senior Barn Players. Lisa’s parents, Richard and Shirley Wagner, are also talented performers and used to direct Senior Barn Players performances. Now, they are members of the troupe. For Lisa, it only seemed natural that Still Point should extend its outreach programming to include this under-valued segment of the population.

As with other Still Point outreach work, Lisa encourages the women to bring their own ideas, interests, and talents to the class. She notes that improvisation works particularly well. Improv creates an opportunity for participants to draw from their rich life experience to create interesting characters and scenarios.  The women in the North Wind Players have come up with a variety of original ideas, and they have a penchant for comedic sketches. One such scene was based on the premise of one woman’s ill-fated trip to a cosmetics counter at a department store; another revolved around two passengers on an airplane with conflicting desires: one wants to read her book in peace, and the other wants to chat endlessly! The women also enjoy portraying historical characters. The oldest member of the North Wind Players, Sr. Mercedes Moore, who has passed her 100th birthday, likes to recite poetry - some of which she recalls from when she was 12!

At least one member of the group has confessed that she always wanted to be an actress, but never before had the chance to explore that interest. Why shouldn’t she explore it now? All of the participants in this particular group are retired Benedictine Sisters. They worked hard and served their communities for many years. Many of them have serious health issues. The chance to interact with others in a new way, have some fun, express their thoughts and feelings, and take their minds off of the inevitable stresses of aging is something that participants appreciate, and most certainly deserve.

Our senior citizens offer us a wealth of experience, perspective, and wisdom – yet our youth-focused culture often fails to acknowledge, let alone celebrate, these gifts. Sage Theatre Works takes a step toward correcting this imbalance.

We are still putting together materials for a new page on the Still Point website devoted to Sage Theatre Works. In the meantime, interested parties can receive more information by contacting Managing Director Ben Gray at the Still Point Office: 773-868-1700; benbgray@gmail.com



Lisa with the North Wind Players


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