Road Scholar US and Age Exchange Intergenerational Theatre Project
Since 2010 Age Exchange has worked with Road Scholar USA in producing intergenerational theatre programmes where grandparents and grandchildren spend a week in Blackheath working with Age Exchange practitioners.
The groups arrive in Blackheath and are housed at The Clarendon Hotel on the Heath. As well as storytelling sessions and rehearsals the group have visits to places of interest and London theatres.
The course element begins with reminiscence sessions for all ages, structured by experienced Age Exchange artists. We use objects and exercises that provoke memories that might be shared in a theatrical framework. Everyone young and old are welcome to contribute only what they want. But usually we are able to begin creating a theatrical scene from some of the stories and so the process develops. Who said what and where and how did it develop. We had had some wonderful scenes over the years from growing up to first jobs to first love to reminiscences recreating places important to a participant.
During the sessions at Age Exchange the participants rehearse and refine the stories, adding appropriate music which can be recorded or created by the group. On the day of the performance we rehearse all morning and in the afternoon we present the short pieces to each other and an invited audience. As well as the theatre piece the grandchildren make a film with our film maker Simon Purins which is shown as part of our farewell evening on the last night.
Over the years we have had some remarkable scenes and stories both poignant and funny. Stories that ranged from a recreation of a school lesson during the Cuban Missile crisis to a memory of life during the depression from a typical and very funny Jewish family meal to a beautiful story of how two widowers found love.