What is life like for seniors in today’s fast-paced age of social media and instant gratification?
The answer to that question is examined in an original one-act theatre performance coming to Maple Ridge called View From a Window.
The play was created out of a project started by Marnie Perrin in partnership with the South Granville Seniors Centre.
Perrin, a 47-year-old theatre professional, had previously worked with seniors fresh after receiving her degree from university and created a play that toured through seniors care facilities.
“It was amazing. Seniors are amazing to work with,” said Perrin.
She always promised herself that she would one day work with seniors again and decided now was the time after her father-in-law asked her, when did I become invisible.
He told her that when he walks in the mall people bump into him and also cut in front of him in lineups.
What peaked Perrin’s interest is she wanted to know if this is something that all seniors experience.
So she organized a series of workshops, eight in total, during the fall of 2016 and winter of 2017 that were held across Vancouver collecting seniors’ stories and experiences. Five to eight seniors took part in each workshop.
What she discovered is that seniors don’t feel invisible.
“They feel very engaged, very empowered, very capable and able. There are times in life where they feel that people don’t acknowledge them. But for the most part seniors are very engaged out there in the community,” said Perrin.
From the workshops Perrin ended up with 60 to 70 pages of written material that were condensed into Perrin’s one-act theatre performance with four characters.
“We pulled those stories out, looking at the characters, what journey they going on and what stories made sense for that character,” said Perrin.
At that point Perrin hired local dramaturg Natasha Nadir who worked with the four characters Perrin had created and made the story lines and journey arch’s clearer. The play has already toured through seniors organizations throughout 2018.
“We like to say that there is no playwright. It’s the stories and words of the seniors,” said Perrin
Perrin and Nadir call themselves the script coordinators.
“Because all of the words that make up the play are the words of the seniors themselves,” said Perrin.
For Perrin, the biggest part of the piece is that often in sitcoms and movies the senior is the comic relief of the story.
“Where the grandfather is off in the corner and the characters are rolling their eyes and that is the part where you are supposed to laugh,” said Perrin.
“And it is often at the expense of the senior-aged character,” she said.
What’s important about this piece, she said, is that it shows that as people age they are still very capable, if they are lucky to have their mental facilities and physical capabilities, they are still very able to contribute to society.
Perrin says she has learned so much working with seniors over the past four years.
“The biggest lesson I have learned is to stop mourning the loss of my youth. Yes, I am not as physically capable or strong as I was in my 20’s. But at 47 I am still a baby, I am still young,” said Perrin who says she has stopped mourning every ache and pain in her body or the amount of grey hair she has.
“I’ve really been able to stop that for myself and really feel my youth in the grand scheme with how long people are living nowadays. That is such a gift. I honestly feel that is such a gift from this project having that clearer acknowledgement of where I am in my lifespan,” she said.
Ultimately, said Perrin, we need to train the next generation of seniors how to be healthy and engaged.
“Drop in the bucket, that’s what we are trying to do.”
View From A Window, starring Bernard Cuffling, Tom Pickett, Gina Stockdale and Yvonne Adalian, is being presented at 3 p.m. on October 13 The ACT Arts Centre, 11944 Haney Place, downtown Maple Ridge.
It is being presented with sponsorship from the Ridge Meadows Community Action Table and promotional support from the Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows, Katzie, Seniors Network.
Tickets are available by calling 604-476-2787 or online at theactmapleridge.org.