Thursday, June 7, 2007

Serving the Community Both Near and Far

Today we finished a wonderful few weeks of touring the 35-minute radio play version of Arsenic and Old Lace. I’m very proud of this production.

All of us in the cast enjoyed the privilege of performing the show in senior centers and retirement communities throughout Greater Richmond. Phil and I actually acted in this one—something we seldom do. How could we say “no” to the chance to share a stage with such amazing colleagues, most notably our memorable leading ladies, real-life sisters Mary Jane Board and Charlotte McCutcheon? They were terrific—very funny and completely professional. The play also featured the more familiar but equally enjoyable talents of Bob Albertia, Chase Kniffen and Tom McGranahan.

Barksdale’s Bifocals Theatre Project provides a chance for senior actors (55 and up) to perform for senior audiences both near and far (2 shows on our lobby stage at Willow Lawn and 10 performances in various senior enclaves around town). All performances are presented on a sliding scale, with each senior center paying only what it can afford. The Bifocals Theatre Project is another way in which Barksdale reaches out to the community, entertaining and invigorating hundreds of high-spirited Richmonders, many of whom are no longer able to attend our mainstage shows at Willow Lawn and/or Hanover Tavern.

My mother, Amy Miller, is a perfect example of the audience member whom the Bifocals Theatre Project is meant to serve—an audience member who otherwise would be all too easy to overlook. A native New Yorker, my mom was and always will be a true-blue theatre lover. But these days, even though her spirit is willing, her mind is no longer able to make it through a two-hour production, and physically it’s just too difficult for her to leave her safe and comfortable home at Westminster-Canterbury.

And so, through the Bifocals Theatre Project, Barksdale now comes to her—and to hundreds of others who regularly benefit from this exemplary service initiative.

My mom may be 91-years-old, dealing with Alzheimer’s and permanently confined to a wheelchair, but she lit up like a Christmas tree during our recent reading of the Arsenic radio script in Westminster’s beautiful Sara Belle November Theatre. Acting is always fun. Acting in a Bifocals production is not only fun, it’s also uniquely rewarding.

Many thanks to all those who make this and other Bifocals Theatre Project events possible. If you would like to learn more, or participate, or become a sponsor, please contact our Special Projects Manager, Chase Kniffen, at c.kniffen@barksdalerichmond.org . But whatever you do, don’t drink the elderberry wine.

1 comment:

Barbara Sloane said...

What Barksdale Theatre is doing with the Bifocals Theatre Project is a mitzvoh, a beautiful and loving deed. I was visiting with my aunt at Beth Shalom Gardens when, to my great delight, your Arsenic radio troupe showed up to entertain on Thursday afternoon. Suddenly the atmosphere on the floor became electric as you led the residents in a lovely singalong, and then presented the hilarious "radio play," made all the more enjoyable by the fact that several of the performers were at least approaching the age of those in the audience. Do you know how beautiful you were? You brightened the lives of so many, and all because you have goodness in your hearts. Bless you all. And blessings on Barksdale Theatre now and forever.