Their voices resonated throughout the social room – some deep and commanding, others high and timid, all joining in the swift repartee of a humorous script expounding on the joys of impending autumn. This is Readers Theater at The Terraces at Bonita Springs, a monthly activity for those residents who enjoy participating in a theater experience without having to memorize lines or change costumes.
Facilitated by Director of Lifestyles Dana Eikenberg, Readers Theater encompasses a wide range of short skits written especially for senior audiences. Subject matter ranges from comedy, drama, social interactions, family relationships, and even to a cast of loony cartoon characters. The activity typically draws about seven residents for each session, and all are game for their assigned roles, whatever the age or gender.
A few months ago, the group took to the stage in the Performing Arts Center to share their talents with the community’s residents at large. They were met with kudos and applause, and are considering another public performance to take place in the near future.
The hour-long sessions allow for four to five scripts, providing a good variety of entertainment. Readings are often punctuated with bouts of laughter. One resident shares that at one point they were laughing so hard, they couldn’t go on for several minutes.
Their voices exude confidence and emotion. Their participation demonstrates a commitment to this stimulating group activity. And their smiles say it all.
As reported by Bernard M and Rickett M in The Gerontologist (2016), many older adults opt to pursue a number of artistic pursuits in their retirement…studies have shown decreased anxiety and loneliness, increased sense of value and purpose, and other emotional benefits including fun, happiness, and a sense a freeing of the imagination. Cognitive benefits include improvements in memory, word generation, and comprehension and problem solving.
Another major area explored was the role of theater in enhancing or transforming group relationships. The authors write that, “Dramatic role play and devising appear to be particularly effective in of producing a safe space for expressing and challenging age-related stereotypes and finding commonalities and accepting differences.”
Another value of theater identified in this review is the opportunity for learning and creativity. This is likely implicated in the cognitive benefits noted above, but the researchers note that “through taking on and meeting challenges, older people gain a sense of achievement, enrichment and fulfillment.” They note that this not only impacts older adults’ lives, but has a potential wider social impact of challenging ageist stereotypes.
Bernard M and Rickett M. The cultural value of older people’s experiences of theater-making: a review. The Gerontologist. (gnw093 ((2016). DOI:10.1093/geront/gnw093
About The Terraces at Bonita Springs
Recreation, special events, holiday celebrations, educational programs, guest speakers, and a variety of inspiring activities take place throughout the year at The Terraces at Bonita Springs (www.TheTerracesatBonitaSprings.com) as part of the community’s active lifestyle programs. The Terraces is the only LifePlan Community for senior living in the Bonita Springs area. Living choices include independent living, assisted living, memory support, skilled nursing and rehabilitation. All levels of care, including assisted living, skilled nursing, and memory support are open for direct admittance, with no entrance fee.
For more information, visit TheTerracesatBonitaSprings.com or call 239.221.8907.