The Scene-iors end-of-term staged reading presented on Thursday, May 19 was, indeed a hit, and, for the first time, BOLLI members who may not have been in attendance, can see a variety of photos of the production–provided by Bunny Cohen and Allan Kleinman. (Let your cursor hover over a picture to see its caption.)
Welcome to The Dining Room by A.R. Gurney!
The group would love to see your comments–use the box below!
Some Scene-ior “veterans” were asked to reflect on what drew them to the activity. Eileen Mitchell, Ron Levy, Carolyn Allen, and Davida Loewenstein shared some of their thoughts and memories…
I was inspired by active & engaged SGLs who led lively discussions & encouraged play readings: Jim Robbins, the Shakespeare guru, who is now in Arizona; Elaine Reisman, modern plays with morals, who is now at Brookhaven, and Lois Ziegelman, from Aeschylus to Tennessee Williams, who is still at BOLLI.
My favorite story is our first public performance that took place in a cozy conference room at South Street – in the former BOLLI offices. We did Table by the Window by Terrence Rattigan, and there was only one person in the audience, but when he laughed — we were hooked! Then we moved to a classroom on campus & 30 people filled the room. Most shows have been at Turner Street, but once we even played at Spingold — on the main stage.
The shared laughter, caring, and emoting are my best memories.
I acted minor roles in high school productions that used to be reviewed by the London “Daily Telegraph”, and so I joined the Scene-iors. The best part of the experience was always the camaraderie among the regulars and how we often succeeded in making something from less than whole cloth.
There were and probably still are challenges, particularly the Turner Street location and our so-called “stage”. What was always most impressive was how the company scrounged and loaned props and costumes. And how about those family a.k.a. cast parties?
When my husband turned sixty, I gave him acting lessons at New Rep. It was like a new room had opened for him, and he loved it. Everyone asked me if I was acting too. ” Oh, no,” I said. “Every bell needs a clapper.”
Then, years later, when I joined BOLLI, I decided to try it–after all, I didn’t have to memorize anything. So, I threw myself into the role of a hag ( I prefer not to think of it as type casting), and I was paired with fellow hag Bunny Cohen in a play by William Inge. I had such fun disappearing into the role. For the performance, my daughter came down from NH, my other daughter left work and took my two grandkids out of elementary school, and my son Bruce blew off work for the afternoon. It was a treat to have them there, and I was thrilled to discover how easy and wonderful it all was.
I also loved the people — I was part of a team — Eileen, Becky Myers , Davida, Pete Rieder, Irwin, Ron Levy, Bunny, Monique Frank.
Bobbe Vernon and Charlie Raskin played teen-agers in love . I watched, entranced, as the years fell away from them. ” Wow,” I said. “They really have chemistry together.” I was thrilled when Charlie wore my late husband’s Navy jacket. It was as though Bob were in the play, too.
The next best experience was Separate Tables, another wonder-full team experience. I dragged tables and windows and curtains and plants from home, along with taking over the role of the hotel manager from Wendy Hiller! I watched the movie a couple of times, and the group spent a post-performance meeting watching it too. I, a confirmed loner, felt the joy of belonging.
First and foremost, Scene-iors is fun! But that’s not why I originally joined the group. I did it to answer a challenge–from me to myself. I dare you, Davida, to be in a play. I had NEVER been in a play and just wanted to add acting to my experience bag. I assumed it would be a one-shot activity, but I loved it and have been in Scene-ior productions ever since.
I think acting has made me really think about the characters in plays and books–who they are at a point in time and how they came to be that way. It’s not much of a stretch to then apply this type of thinking to people I actually know. I guess this is another way of saying that I think that even my limited acting experience in Scene-iors has served to increase my sensitivity.
Participating in Scene-iors is such a wonderful opportunity for BOLLI members. I’m surprised that more people don’t give it a try…but, then again, it took a dare to push me to “take the plunge!”
During the Lunch & Learn hour on Thursday, May 19th, the Scene-iors, BOLLI’s intrepid troupe of actors, will present a staged reading of A.R. Gurney’s play, The Dining Room. Gurney’s play provides audiences with what the Samuel French acting edition describes as “an in-depth portrait of a vanishing species: the upper-middle-class WASP.” Under the able direction of Becky Myers with assistance from veteran Scene-ior Eileen Mitchell, a small cast of actors portrays a wide array of characters in a collection of vignettes that bring the dining rooms of a dying culture to life.
The Dining Room cast includes: Sandy Clifford, Davida Loewenstein, Becki Norman, and Bobbe Vernon as both young and old, male and female characters. Irwin Garfinkle portrays all of the families’ patriarchs, and Sue Wurster serves as their maids.
When asked how she chose the play for the group, director Becky Meyers said:
“The Dining Room was a good candidate because of its structure–a series of vignettes with essentially unrelated characters. I knew that I’d be able to pick & choose which scenes to include, depending on who and how many were in the group. This semester, we have six cast members, and, of course, everyone has several different roles. Due to the play’s structure, one of the most challenging aspects of my director’s role has been to work out the blocking.
“Choreographing all the entrances & exits has truly been like herding cats–but a fine herd of cats it is! I think the most challenging thing for cast members will be, not the blocking and the costume changes, but the getting truly into & out of different characters multiple times!
“The first time I directed, I chose Love of One’s Neighbor, a satire by Leonid Andreyev, a very funny social commentary that had lots of small roles. Another year, three one-act plays by Susan Glaspell provided a humorous take on very serious topics, such as feminism and Freudian analysis. Another one with a serious bent was Waiting For Lefty, which, again, was a series of vignettes providing multiple parts for cast members.
“I love this stuff. The plays themselves, the cast members, the camaraderie, the BOLLI audience!”
The cast members are equally enthusiastic about The Dining Room. Sandy says that “I love having the opportunity to explore many different characters that range in age from a young boy to an old woman.”
Bobbe echoes Sandy’s sentiments, adding that “the challenges are making quick costume and personality changes, but the hardest part will be trying to sing on key!”
“I really enjoy the opportunity to play both older and younger characters,” says Becki Norman, “and, of course the friendship and camaraderie of the group.”
When asked what he most enjoys about his experience with the show, Irwin grins and says sheepishly, “My harem.”
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