The World's a Stage for Forest Hills Seniors in Acting Program

By Nigel Chiwaya on August 6, 2012 2:43pm 

Participants practice making 'frozen images' as part of theater training.
Participants practice making 'frozen images' as part of theater training.
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Everybody Act

FOREST HILLS—It's like Arthur Miller meets Superman.

Members of a Forest Hills senior center are working at breakneck speed to craft a play that they will perform for the public Thursday — penning a script and getting ready to perform in a scant two weeks.

The actors, ten seniors at the Young Israel of Forest Hills Senior League, are working with Everybody Act, an arts education group that provides theater workshops for New Yorkers of all ages.

"It's definitely fast," said Kevin Ray, Everybody Act's founder. "We're doing it very quickly."

Ray and his co-worker Sherry Teitlebaum first met with the budding playwrights last week. Since then, the seniors have been crafting themes and scenes for the performance.

While the main goal of the program is to help make theater more accessible to seniors, Ray said that the program has had other benefits as well. It provides physical and mental activity, helps the participants think critically and has even helped them get to know each other.

"I thought everyone knew each other," said Ray, but he discovered that the opposite was true from a participant.

"She said: 'I know everybody by face, but I don't talk to anyone," Ray said. "So it's nice to get to know everyone.'"

The plot of the play will be built around a physical object that was chosen by the seniors — a shoe.

So the play will feature shoe-themed phrases such as "the shoe's on the other foot" and "don't judge me until you've walked a mile in my shoes."

The play is partially funded by the Decentralization Program; a grant program administered by the Queens Council on the Arts.

Everybody Act launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise more money, but while they didn't reach their fundraising goal of $2,000, Ray said that another Young Israel senior league in the city reached out to them about holding the program at their location.

"We've got a lot of exciting unexpected outcomes," Ray said.

The performance will be open to the public on Thursday, Aug. 9, 1 p.m. at the Young Israel of Forest Hills Senior League, 68-07 Burns St. Admission is free.

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