Beyond the Ages: An Intergenerational Theatre Project
David Douglas High School students collaborate with Cherrywood Retirement Village residents to imagine stronger communities and a better world, through theatre. This event is free and open to the public, sponsored by Kaiser Permanente's Educational Theatre Program in collaboration with Oregon Children's Theatre.
Date: Sat., March 17
Location: David Douglas Performing Arts Center
Written by Young Professional Guest Blogger Heidi Osaki
This is the second year of the Intergenerational Theatre Project. The Intergenerational Theatre Project is a six week process involving David Douglas High School students and Cherrywood Village Retirement seniors collaborating to create an original theatre piece. They rehearse twice a week, and their rehearsals culminate in a 30 minute final performance on March 17th. The performance will showcase the skills and activities developed during the rehearsal process, including skits, tableaus, and infomercials. The purpose of the Intergenerational Theatre Project is to address relationships across ages, age stereotypes, and community building through shared knowledge and collaboration.
I had the chance to attend a Tuesday rehearsal at David Douglas High School, where they were working on creating infomercials. The group of around thirteen was divided into smaller groups with one to two high school students working with one to two seniors. Groups were given time to come up with a product that addresses a community issue and rehearse an infomercial for that product. Groups were in deep conversation with each other, brainstorming animatedly, or practicing up on their feet. The environment felt like any creative class I have been in, with no difference in their interactions despite the difference in age.
After coming up with a plan, the groups performed rough drafts for their infomercials to each other. The first group opened with the line, “do you suffer from fake news confusion?” Then they went on to introduce a product called a newspaper. Other ideas ranged from an anger management watch to a cookie drone. I was warmed by the supportive environment of this group and their ability to encourage each other by laughing, applauding, and providing positive feedback.
Seeing the support and friendship these people had for each other, regardless of age, was inspiring. It is refreshing to talk with people who have different experiences and I am realizing more and more the value of sharing and engaging with others not my own age.
The group circled up after presenting, chatting, and joking comfortably together. A few high school students shared their creative responses to an article assigned last rehearsal. One student shared a drawing, while others read or performed poetry that focused on age stereotypes and creating connections across generations. Their work was rewarded with applause from the group as well as praise and feedback.
To end the day, each person said what they appreciated about the rehearsal. Some were serious, and some were funny, but all showcased the appreciation this group clearly had for one another and the friendly connection that had formed between them.
One Cherrywood Village retirement senior finished out his appreciation by saying, “I had so much fun, I felt like I was back in high school.”