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On Stage At Any Age: Senior Theatre Program offers locals 50 years and older the chance to train and perform

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Vickie Brown loves being on stage. She’s a member of Rome Little Theatre and revels in performing, particularly in dramatic roles.

But roles are increasingly hard to come by for (as she puts it) women of her age.

However, thanks to a grant from Rome Area Council for the Arts, Vickie and other local seniors have the chance to develop their theatrical talents and perform for the community.

Rome Little Theatre will launch a Senior Theatre Program that will include acting workshops for seniors that will culminate in a theatrical production.

The program, made possible by a grant from RACA, will offer classes open to anyone 50 years and older who would like to participate.

Each 12-week session will be taught by Rome Little Theatre President Karen Bowling.

“The main thing we want to stress is that it’s not just for seniors who are actors or who want to be in theatrical productions,” Bowling said. “Even if you’ve never acted before or never been in a production. We’ll have experienced actors and we’ll have people who have never been on the stage before.”

Bowling stressed that social interaction and learning new skills are as much a part of the workshops as learning lines and being on stage.

There will be two sessions for participants to choose from. The first will take place Jan. 4 to March 22 with classes on Wednesdays and Sundays from 6-9 p.m. At the end of this session, participants who would like to take part in actual productions performed at local venues can do so between March 25 and April 9.

The second session will run Jan. 24 to April 11 with classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 9 a.m. Performance dates for this session are April 16-28.

“We’ll teach them the basic skills of acting,” Bowling said. “They’ll learn how to project, how to relax on stage and how to develop their character. It’s not as scary as it seems but people don’t know that till they come to the workshops and see that they’re surrounded by people just like them.”

“Sure, acting skills are a big part of this project,” she added.

“But socialization and health and wellness are components as well.”

The cost is $120 and while learning theatrical skills, the participants will also work on actual scripts and roles to be performed throughout the community.

At the end of each session, participants will be performing several one-act plays at local nursing homes, assisted living facilities and senior centers.

“The reason we started this was because many of our local senior actors were saying there aren’t enough roles or productions they could audition for,” she said. “But we also realize there are many seniors in our community who aren’t able to come to the theater and attend a show even though they’d like to. So this serves both of those needs. It provides education and performance opportunities to some and for those can’t get to a show, we’re taking those performances to them.”

Vickie Brown says she can’t wait for the workshops to start. She’s eager to develop her craft so that when roles do become available, she’s a little more prepared for them.

“And of course it will be fun,” she added. “You get to share the experience with people your own age and we’ll be going out into the community with what we’re learning. This is something we love to do and you get to share that with other people in our community.”

All workshops will take place at the Rome Little Theatre Annex, 401 N. 5th Ave.

To register, call the RLT box office at 706-295-7171.