The Mixed Company Theatre (MCT) workshop series, “Making Meaning from Memories” have brought together a group of seniors, who have found their voice while experimenting with forum theatre. The workshops are part of a new community arts project, InterGEN that reconnects youth and older adults in three Toronto communities. The seniors (ages 50-80) have clearly been participating in community building exercises – many of which have brought them out of their comfort zone. The activities prepare the seniors to become more comfortable using their body and speaking in front of the whole group.
One senior in her 70s described her experience in the program as something that she feels has changed how she thinks, as she said, “I go home and think about all the things we spoke about. The next morning I have all these ideas about things that I haven’t thought about before—like about diversity. I mean the things the kids have to deal with these days—I just never had to do that.”
In the final scene that the seniors rehearsed they chanted the chorus of a song, written by Luciano Iogna, an MCT facilitator who wrote the script based on experiences the seniors shared. They chanted repeatedly: “I get no respect.” Lines in between the chorus include moments that describe how disrespect manifests in their lives, such as people having no patience for them, nobody offering them a seat on public transit, or being made to feel invisible. The two MCT facilitators, Simon and Luc, encouraged the seniors to think about different ways people might respond to these experiences – something they will have the opportunity to play with through forum theatre. As facilitators, Simon and Luc, pointed out: the MCT approach to forum theatre encourages participants to critically reflect and analyse their experiences, while also seeking possibilities for empowerment and change.
The session ended with all of the seniors coming to a consensus on the title for their play: ‘C’mon Granny’ will be performed on Sunday March 1, 2015 at Lambton House in Toronto.
Christina Parker (OCT, Ph.D.), is an educator and researcher in Toronto and is our Volunteer Researcher for the Inter-Gen program.