Whatever stereotypes I had of aging were shattered by the talented actors, storytellers, and singers I met at Stagebridge. The Oakland-based company is America’s longest-running senior theatre troupe. Most of the cast come from professional ranks, taking the stage when retirement allows them time to pursue passions.
I got to know Stagebridge firsthand when they advertised for a storytelling director. I called the number on the ad and said, “I think you’re looking for me” (a story that netted me third place in the Impowerage writing contest). I managed to persuade them they were and spent the next fifteen months being regularly blown away by the talent of people who ranged from their mid-50s to right up into the 90s.
At the time I went to work for Stagebridge, I was well into my 50s. An exciting but challenging marriage had left my finances in tatters, and I hadn’t a clue how I was going to keep a roof over my head as I edged toward crone status. What these amazing people taught me was resilience. Some were financially stable. Others were struggling. Some were healthy. Others were dealing with chronic diseases, cancer, arthritis, and other debilitating conditions.
What they all had in common was zest for life. They were the best kind of chosen family, the kind that asks how you’re doing, empathizes with your problems, and then says, “Right. Sorry to hear that. I’ll bring dinner around. But right now, the show must go on.”
And go on it did. Improv, theatre pieces, comedy, dance, storytelling. Creativity to their fingertips, determination in every bone. They gave me hope that the last chapter of my life would be wild and wonderful, that I had enough bounce in me to get past my current difficulties, that I still had time to add my voice to the chorus.
Thanks, Stagebridge. You will always give me hope.
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