Senior citizens find second act

Senior citizens are taking their newfound talents to the stage.

A group of seniors — ages 59 to 74 — gathered for the new creative aging acting class Thursday morning at the Denham Springs-Walker Library.

The seniors, many of whom have never acted before, said they were nervous, excited and curious about the opportunity to hone their acting skills.

Sarah Colombo, adult library services head for the Livingston Parish Library, asked Bridget Erin Connor-Feldbaum to create a creative aging acting class for the Livingston Parish community after hearing of similar programs for seniors around the country.

She said she believed an acting class would be an excellent initiative to get older adults involved in the arts.

“It was Sarah who researched and discovered the enormity of success these classes experienced,” Connor-Feldbaum said. “While not only benefiting the seniors, the art community and the library, it brought families and friends together on such a positive level no one could have possibly envisioned nor have expected.”

Barbara Gill, a retired nurse and teacher, was looking for a way to spend her time. The 71-year-old grandmother recently moved to Walker to be close to her grandchildren.

“I was looking for a way to make new friends,” Gill said. “It is important for me to continue growing and thriving to maintain the quality of life I enjoy.”

And while she’s never acted or been on a stage, Gill said she believed her experience as the innovator in the nationwide program Reach Out and Read would help her through the acting classes.

“After many years of reading to children, I have no fear to be on the stage,” she said.” I am looking forward to it.”

The course will offer students an introduction to improvisation, character, voice and speech work, movement and scene study in a fun and encouraging environment, Connor-Feldbaum said.

“The class will help them explore and embrace the creative process,” she said.

During the introductory session on April 17, the students quickly bonded.

Evan Wilks, of Denham Springs, retired from the American Can Co. and a longtime salesman originally from New Orleans, said he’s taking the class to challenge himself and “just basically do something playful.”

“I’ve never acted or have ever done anything like this before,” Wilks said.

“So it is very intriguing to me to challenge myself with something new and different,” he said. “I also like the idea of the fantasy of it all, to have an opportunity to step into another character’s shoes and be someone else, live someone else’s life for just a little while.”

Sharin Lind, of Denham Springs, smiled and laughed during most of the class.

Despite recently having a stroke, Lind said she remains committed and determined to find new interests to complete her life, and the thought of acting intrigued her.

“I’ve always been very timid and shy, and it was always hard to make friends since my husband’s job required moving frequently,” the 74-year-old said. “I have lots of time on my hands now. This seems like an opportunity to see what I’ve got, learn something and try on a new experience.”

Mona Mistric, 59, of Watson, said, as a freelance writer, she hoped to find new writing material during the acting class.

“This looks like so much fun, the people are so nice and interesting, and our instructor definitely makes us feel comfortable while bringing out the best in all of us,” she said.

Connor-Feldbaum said that while the class has already started, new students are invited to come, participate and join this unique project.

“The class has only covered basic orientation material, so any newer students won’t have any trouble catching up,” she said. “It’s not too late.”

The six-week course will meet at least once a week. At the end of the series, the class will present a public showcase at 6 p.m. May 22 at the library.

Each student will have the opportunity to present a scene or monologue he or she has developed to the audience.

Registration is required by calling (225) 665-8118 or by visiting the online event calendar at www.mylpl.info.