Tag Archives: Special Interest Groups

FOCUS ON SPECIAL INTEREST GROUPS: MAKE A DIFFERENCE

Aside from courses, lectures, seminars, and other activity, at BOLLI, we have an extensive menu of  Special Interest Groups that give us even more opportunities to get to know each other and dive more deeply into engaging pursuits.  Each month, we will focus on another BOLLI SIG and its activities–membership is always open!

In August, our BOLLI “Make a Difference” SIG was featured in the National Osher Newsletter.  That article is reprinted here.

OLLI at Brandeis University 

Make a Difference

Leaders Eleanor Jaffe and Elaine Dohan

“Make a Difference” is an affinity group that evolved naturally at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Brandeis University. It is led by two long-term members, Elaine Dohan and Eleanor Jaffe who have been participating for many years with classmates in discussion groups as well as in history and current event classes.  For example, Eleanor taught a course called “Resistance and Resilience in Politics and Life” in which current issues, as well as law and history, were discussed. In addition, every semester,  OLLI at Brandeis  hosts a variety of speakers who stimulate discourse from their unique positions.

Inviting colleagues to join with Elaine and Eleanor to form a group for civic action seemed an obvious next step.  As seniors, their particular experience and perspective gives them a unique vantage point from which to view today’s political climate and current events.  They also believe they have a responsibility to their grandchildren to set an example of the importance of citizen participation in civic discourse and action, both through voting and by speaking out.

Currently, the group is focusing their attention on issues concerning children. These include topics such as immigration, school shootings, voter registration and juvenile justice.  They meet regularly and reach consensus on current critical issues. Actions include writing postcards and calling editors of newspapers, members of Congress, and executives of corporations to urge action on behalf of these important issues.  They then follow up and write “thank you notes” to those individuals and groups who are providing positive leadership in these areas.

BOLLI’s “Make a Difference” SIG meets every other Friday morning from 10:30 to 12:00.  Watch the Bulletin for announcements of meetings and activities.

All of our SIGs are member-driven.  Don’t see your particular interest on our list?  Talk to a staff member about starting a new one!

BOLL Matters Co-editor Sue Wurster

Want to see your group highlighted here? Send updates on your SIG activities for future focus.  susanlwurster@gmail.com

 

 

 

A VERY SPECIAL INTEREST GROUP: THE BPG

A VERY SPECIAL INTEREST GROUP:  THE BPG

BOLLI Photographers “In the Wild” (photo by Dennis Greene)

By Lydia Bogar and Joanne Fortunato

Be sure to check out the BPG–BOLLI Photography Group!  Some members may be true camera buffs since getting their first Brownie camera in fifth grade, but many are novices, having just taken-up photography in retirement years.  The eye takes in something beautiful, unusual, colorful (or all three) that makes impact and becomes an integral part of the day.  Inspiration comes from anyone, anywhere, or anything around us–from a complex flower or a simple weed; a day at Fenway or a walk in the backyard after a rain storm.

“This summer, we began a weekly photo challenge, giving the group a new topic to photograph each week,” says BPG organizer Joanne Fortunato.   Topics included an animal, a reflection, something red, happiness, or other subjects suggested by members of the group.  Joanne says that the purpose of the challenge was to encourage members to exercise their own creativity and to photograph something new and different every week.

The BPG has also taken field trips to points within an ever-expanding circle of our local communities:  Tower Hill Botanical Gardens, Mount Auburn Cemetery, and Copley Square.  One of the group’s next trips will be to ‘Fog x FLO’ along the Emerald Necklace!

Recently, the BPG met to discuss final preparations for their new exhibit, which will be available for viewing in the classrooms as the fall semester starts.  The entire BOLLI community will be able to savor the group’s latest works.   Perhaps viewers may even be inspired to join the group and discover their own creative eyes.

Watch the BOLLI Bulletin for announcements of BPG meetings, challenges, and trips.  You don’t need a fancy camera–just a desire to see your world through a different lens.

“BOLLI Matters” co-editor, feature writer, and photography enthusiast Lydia Bogar
BPG Organizer Joanne Fortunato

 

BOLLI PRESENTS A NEW SPECIAL INTEREST GROUP: MAKE A DIFFERENCE

WHO SAYS WE’RE TOO OLD?

by Eleanor Jaffe

Eleanor and Husband Burt

Where political action is concerned, I’d say we are not too old.  I’d say we have strong ethics and opinions that are well informed by our personal lives and professional experiences,  and we have potentially strong voices.  BUT – we must use them!

We watch our beloved country overrun by scoundrels, those with no moral compass or sense of history.  Those who cannot (or will not) defend the rights of children separated from their parents at our borders.  Under this administration, we see  families that have trekked many hundreds of miles from their homes where they lived in danger from gangs and governments unable to protect them  to our borders seeking asylum.  (They are highly motivated;  wouldn’t they make ideal citizens?  Highly motivated, strong, ambitious people, sacrificing and striving for democracy and safety for themselves and their children.)  And we watch, dumbstruck by cruelties performed in our names by our government’s benighted policies:  these official asylum seekers, whose entry is not illegal,  are being separated from their traumatized children.

Thousands of children have been separated from their parents and are being “warehoused” in large detention centers, suffering the cruelties of fear and separation  that will shape their lives forever.  And our own government is the perpetrator of this policy!  And our tax dollars are supporting these arbitrary cruelties!

No matter what you think of our immigration policies…do you think they are inconsistent, have loopholes, need attention and correction?  Do you really believe this is the way to implement our current practices?  

Who says we are too old to do something about this heinous, cruel “immigration policy?”

Many of  us already make our voices heard by writing letters and making phone calls to our elected officials.   Others financially support organizations like the ACLU, the League of Women Voters, or other worthy organizations.  I hope that all of us might raise our  voices, write those postcards, support voter registration and candidates whose policies we admire so that our government represents the policies and programs that are synchronous with who we are as  moral persons   Ask yourself, does your government now reflect your ideals, experiences, and hopes?  If it does not, get active!  We are not too old!

One way to “get active” is to attend the meetings of our newly formed Make A Difference special interest group at BOLLI to see what we are doing.  We will be meeting on June 12 at 1 pm.  We will also meet once a month in July and August.  We will then set a regular meeting time come September.  You and your righteous anger and determination to “Make a Difference” will be heard.  We are not too old!

After serving as a delegate to Chicago’s 1968 Democratic Convention, Eleanor’s activism took a back seat to her other pursuits.  But today, she says, fear and loathing of the Trump administration has propelled her from “arm chair activism” (talking back to TV anchors) to small acts of resistance.  In the 2017 fall semester, she was sufficiently motivated to create a BOLLI course, “Resistance and Resilience in Politics and in Life.”  Now, she and Elaine Dohan are leading, “Make a Difference,” a new special interest group devoted to doing just that–through phoning, writing, and other acts of protest.  She invites others to join.

WALKABOUT by Quinn Rosefsky

At our most recent Writers Guild session, we shared our work with a “conspiracy theory” prompt in which we challenged ourselves to stretch our imaginations into the “fantastic” and write with authority.  As autumn creeps upon us, this piece of fiction by Quinn Rosefsky took many of us right back to summer camp…  We thoroughly enjoyed it and are sure you will too.

Quinn says that:  “Walkabout” started as a chapter in a book I call: Camp Arawakee .The manuscript was on a shelf in my closet for over twenty-five years. At one time, the book had enough strength to entice an agent to take interest. However, no publishers ever bothered to take a nibble. That was disheartening. More recently, I summoned the courage to take a fresh look. After all, in the past several years, I have somehow managed to write and re-write many times, what on paper looks like a mere 200,000 words. That changes a person. Let me tell you! So, what we now have in “Walkabout” is the fresh, 2017 version of the sentiments which first came to life so long ago. I’d be interested to know if anyone can come up with an ending to the “story within a story.” Having said that, you should probably read the story before reading this brief essay

 

WALKABOUT 

By Quinn Rosefsky

Where was Louis? The boys in Turtle Cabin waited in the fading light for their counselor to return from chatting with the pretty dark-haired nurse in the infirmary. Charlie, Teddy and Sean made up a contest. Who could jump the farthest from the edge of the lean-to onto the ground? A few feet away, Pete and Michael began arguing about whose turn it was to sweep the floor the next morning. As the first stars began to appear, Louis strode into view.

“Story!” the boys said, one after another.

The boys and Louis, dangling their legs, huddled on the edge of the lean-to.

“It was as hot as an oven the day I saw my first opal,” Louis said, dumping a bag of strange pebbles into his palm. “I’d been behind the wheel of my truck for hours and the flies were driving me crazy. I was so tired I could barely keep my eyes open. That’s when I drove the truck off the road into a ditch. There was no way I could get the wheels free. I sat down under the only gum tree around to rest.

“Just as I closed my eyes, something flashed at my feet. I bent over. There it was lying on top of the ground, the most fiery opal I’d ever seen.”

Louis paused to adjust the bush hat he always wore, even in the shower.

“What’s an opal?” Charlie said.

“It’s a jewel almost as precious as a diamond but still worth a lot of money.”

“Let him get on with the story,” Pete said, elbowing Charlie.

“Anyhow, just then, an Aborigine, his eyes so bright they looked like they were on fire, walked out of the bush and came straight towards me. He was wearing dusty blue jeans and no shirt.”

“What’s an Aborigine?” Ronnie said.

“They’re our native Australians, the ones who were there when Europeans first began to settle the continent. Same as your American Indians were here first.”

“Are there a lot of them?” Sean asked.

“Not any more. They’ve had a rough time.”

“Are they dangerous?”

“Not at all. They never were and never will be. They’re the ones who protect life in all its forms. That’s why the bush has been unspoiled for thousands of years.

“This particular Aborigine, who said his name was Jack, was on what’s called a walkabout. He’d been living alone in the bush for over a year, learning what he was to do with his life.

“As soon as Jack came to within a few yards, he stood still. He didn’t move for five minutes, not a muscle. It was as if he’d turned into a statue.

“Then Jack moved. First he pointed to my opal and then he took it from my hand and turned it over and over. Then he said: ‘Follow me.’

“We walked along an invisible track in the bush for about an hour. Finally, Jack stopped and pointed to the ground. I was completely mystified. Opals, dozens of them, were everywhere. I ran about like a man possessed. I was rich!

“Then I remembered my car was still stuck in the ditch an hour away from where I was. But what good would it do me to have all those opals if I never got out of the bush? I looked around to thank Jack, but he was gone. I was alone with no truck, no water and the hot sun beating down on me.”

“What happened next?” Charlie asked.

“You’ll have to wait until tomorrow,” Louis said.

“It’s not fair,” Pete said stomping his feet.

“That’s enough, Pete,” Louis said, wagging his finger. “I’ll give you guys fifteen minutes to get ready for bed and then it’s lights out.”

“How can I fall asleep not knowing if you survived?” Sean asked.

“Tomorrow.”

BOLLI Member & SGL Quinn Rosefsky

Quinn is a familiar face at BOLLI where he takes courses, teaches courses, serves on the Study Group Support Committee, participates in the New Yorker Fiction Group, the Writers Guild, and more!

 

CAST UPDATE: Self-Discovery in a Supportive Environment

CAST (Creativity in Acting, Storytelling, and Theatre) IN ACTION

Veteran Player Sandy Clifford

“It gets the creative juices flowing!”  Sandy Clifford says of CAST activity at BOLLI.   “It’s great fun making new friends and begging part of a  creative team.  It’s also challenging and educational kind of self-discovery–in an environment where taking chances is supported.”

It’s a typical CAST adventure.  The group gathers for a “Warm-Up Walk” around the Gathering Space.  They are instructed to focus on the space itself, the intersection between themselves and their environment, and then, the nature of their movement.

The instruction to “Walk like an Egyptian” brings the expected laughter as actors try to move as if they are one or two-dimensional beings. Then, they take on the characters of individuals with unique walks: clown, deep sea diver, tightrope walker, toddler, ballerina.  “How has the environment and years of this activity affected the way you walk–on the sidewalk?  Across a room?”  They move throughout the room, finally coming to a stop to see what might be coming next.

Mimed activity–jumping rope, playing tennis or volleyball–might lead to creating tableaux or “Photo Album” in which one member turns the pages of an imaginary album, narrating a memorable family outing  or celebration.  “Oh, here we all are at Uncle Elbert’s barbecue,” the narrator indicates, for example, as the group quickly compose themselves in a frozen scene.

Next might be an exercise in improvisation.   In “Job Interview,” an employer engages a potential employee in conversation about the position for which he or she is applying.  The catch?  The potential employee doesn’t know what the job is and must rely on the other player to guide her or him to that conclusion with well-constructed clues.   In “Congratulations on Your Retirement!” a group of party-goers try to determine what each other’s 50-year careers entailed.

Phyllis Walt and Steve Goldfinger in “You Did WHAT?!”

An exercise in dialogue might follow.  “The Ten-Line Trip,”  for example, provides players, in pairs, with a generic ten-line dialogue which each pair particularizes by creating a unique environment in which it takes place,  As in…

UP IN THE AIR with Judy Blatt and Eileen Mitchell

On occasion, a rousing rendition of “Chopped Props” ensues.  The players are divided into two groups, and each is given a picnic basket or grocery bag which has been filled with identical prop items.   The groups then have a prescribed bit of time in which to create a scene in which all of the props become essential elements.  As in…

THE BANK HEIST with Bette Winer, Joan Halperin, and Sandy Clifford

and…

MY AGING DENTIST with Steve Goldfinger, Judy Blatt, and Monique Frank

 

Props can be used to inspire solo storytelling as well–as Marty Ross demonstrates.

Marty Ross in Mega-Magnifiers recounts a tale–fiction? Or NOT…?

 

At times,  too, the group deals with scripted material–as we will do starting next month when we begin to prepare CARRYING ON, the world premiere of a collection of short plays for senior players.  The production will be presented at a Lunch & Learn session during the last week of the fall term.

Newcomers are always welcome.  Margie Nesson tried her hand at the acting game this summer, reporting that she enjoyed “yet another new experience for me at BOLLI!”   New BOLLI member Mark Seliber says that, during the first session he attended,  he was intrigued by how just movement itself can set up a scene.  And Jan Burres, who dropped in recently, says, “It was fun! We laughed.  We played.  We even learned how people in theatre can cry, night after night, when necessary. I felt welcomed and delighted in the real sense of camaraderie in the group. And I’ll be back.”

And it just doesn’t get better than THAT, now, does it?

CAST Facilitator Sue Wurster

For over 40 years, Sue taught drama to students  in kindergarten  through college (but mostly in middle and high school).  Working with BOLLI players has been “absolutely the best,” she says.  “Unlike adolescents, this group isn’t worried about looking silly in front of their friends–they just go for it!  And, as a result, their growth as actors is exponential in nature.”  

ONE BOLLI, ONE BOOK

During the final week of our Fall Term, BOLLI’s “Book Group” engaged lunchtime attendees in a BOLLI-wide discussion of Philip Roth’s novel, Indignation.

Roth’s book is set in the 1950s and features a butcher’s son from Newark who escapes the family ties that bind by enrolling at a small, traditional college far from home in the rural Midwest.

The BOLLI Book Group’s co-organizers, Abby Pinard and Charlie Marz, moderated the event.  “I think the One Bolli, One Book conversation went extremely well,” Charlie says.  “I’m not very good at estimating the number of people in a crowd, but I would say there were at least 3 or 400 people in the room.”  Abby suggests that 30-40 were actively engaged in the conversation circle, and mentions that another 10-20 observed from the tables.

Abby Pinard and Charlie Marz (left) greet participants in the discussion circle
Abby Pinard and Charlie Marz (left) greet participants in the discussion circle

Charlie points to the conversation as having been lively and substantive.  “Rosalie Fink told me that, although she hadn’t read the novel, she found the discussion so interesting that she went out and bought it and read it,  and, since that time, she’s  become a bit obsessed by Roth, recommending that we do another one of his novels–American Pastoral or Nemesis.  Another ‘silent’ participant, Marty Kafka from The New Yorker Fiction Salon,  told me that, although he hadn’t read the book, he found the discussion so interesting that he stayed just to observe/listen.”

Both Charlie and Abby believe that the event may become an annual one, but, whether that happens or not, the BOLLI Book Group offers excellent reading and discussion opportunities on a regular basis.

Watch The Bulletin for specifics about the group’s upcoming reading and discussion plans.

Want to know more about BOLLI’s Special Interest Groups?  Click here:  https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/33972419/SIGS.pdf

 

 

BOLLI’S PHOTO GROUP: Getting the Picture

During the Fall Term, the BOLLI Photo Group treated us all to a glimpse of their activities in a wonderful lunchtime presentation.  It helped to introduce this very popular Special Interest Group to the membership as a whole and highlighted some of its activities.

Group organizer Joanne Fortunato kicked off the presentation with some images from the group’s October trip to the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum.  She focused, in particular, on one outdoor installation called “Lincoln”  One would think the photographers’ images would all be quite similar considering that they were shooting the same thing.  But, clearly, this is never the case!  Note how very original these shots are!

Miriam Soybel
Miriam Soybel
Mel Markowitz (shooting Dick Hanelin)
Dick Hanelin
Joanne Fortunato
Joanne Fortunato
“Weathered” by Steve Schwartz
“Rabbit Hole” by Steve Schwartz
“Out of the Darkness” by Steve Schwartz

Other members of the group presented aspects of their work for the BOLLI lunchtime audience.

Linda Brooks shared her “Photography Projects with a Focus.”  She particularly likes working with themes and, after her “Windows and Doors Calendar” (which you can find on the blog by scrolling through SIG “Photo Group” items), she started creating books, including a dog story for children.  She photographed the 30 day gestation period taking place in the robin’s nest outside her kitchen window, and is now into flowers.

Helen Abrams provided “Photographing Trees: A Personal Journey.” As a docent at Mt. Auburn, she has an excellent opportunity to check out a huge number of different types of trees and focus on their fascinating differences–their twisted trunks and branches, their leaves…in all sorts of light.  She says that they eventually start to look like they’re going to move!  (You can find one leg of this journey in a very early blog item by scrolling back through the SIG “Photo Group” items.)

Steve Schwartz showed “Interpretations: Familiar and Artistic.”  He says that, as a CPA, photography fulfills his fascination with the intersection of precision and feelings.  His work, exemplified by his “Lincoln” photographs above, clearly does just that!

And, finally, the irrepressible BOLLI photo enthusiast/SGL/and field trip leader extraordinaire Arthur Sharenow rounded out the event by providing “Tips for Taking Good Pictures,” sharing some hits and misses.  Always a treat!

The group meets on one Friday afternoon per month–check the BOLLI calendar for meeting dates/times.  At each meeting, the group takes time to critique each other’s work, share ideas, and plan events.  Any interested BOLLI member–from beginner to professional–is welcome!  Coming up, another photography show featuring works by members of the group will be installed in the Purple Room for the spring term.

Want to know more about BOLLI’s Special Interest Groups?  Click here:  https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/33972419/SIGS.pdf

 

 

CAST PRESENTS: “Going Solo”

During the last week of the fall term, the BOLLI Membership Committee sponsored lunchtime presentations celebrating ourselves and our activities, providing our fellow BOLLI members with entertainment, discussion, and more!  First up, that week was our intrepid group of actors providing a program called “Going Solo.”

                                                                 CAST                                                                               (Creative Acting, Storytelling, and Theatre)On Monday, our CAST Our CAST members performed monologues drawn from plays (many of them one-character shows) featuring characters from real life.  The performers provided the following glimpses of fascinating people–

CAST Coach/Performer Sue Wurster as Stein

Sue Wurster started off the program with a piece drawn from the play Gertrude Stein Gertrude Stein Gertrude Stein by Marty Martin.  The play, a single-character work, featured Pat Carroll in its off-Broadway run in New York in the ’70s and takes place on the eve of Stein’s eviction from her Paris apartment.  In this portion of the work, she talks about the inner self as well as what she was trying to accomplish in her work.

 

Monique Frank as Emily Dickinson

We then moved back in time (and place) from the Paris of 1933 to the Amherst, Massachusetts of the mid-19th Century.  In this scene from William Luce’s one-woman play, The Belle of Amherst, the reclusive poet talks about her father, her sister, and, of course, her poems.

Bunny Cohen as Amelia Earhart

In 1932, the National Geographic Society awarded its Gold Medal to Amelia Earhart for becoming the first woman (and the only person since Charles Lindbergh) to achieve a solo transatlantic flight.  In this passage from Laura Annawyn Shamas’ one-woman play, Amelia Lives, the aviatrix reflects with some amazement upon the extraordinary public response to her flight as she accepts the medal for her achievement.

Becki Norman as Vivien Leigh

In Marcy Lafferty’s one-woman show, Vivien Leigh: The Last Press Conference, drawn from the Leigh’s own words, we are given a portrait of the troubled and gifted actress not long before the end of her life.  Here, she talks about her most determined campaigns in life:  marrying Laurence Olivier and landing the role of Scarlett O’Hara.

Eileen Mitchell as Eva Peron

In a very unusual piece, First Lady, playwright Erica Christ has provided a unique look at the woman who used her position as Argentina’s first lady to fight for women’s rights and care of the poor. Here, Peron (after her death) reflects upon what it means to be a woman in Argentina…and more.

Sandy Clifford as the irrepressible Molly Ivins

Twin sisters Margaret and Allison Engel have provided a vivid image of brassy Texas newspaper columnist Molly Ivins in their one-woman play, Red Hot Patriot: The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins.  In this portion of the play, Ivins turns her humor on Texas politics as she tries to write about her father.

Bette Winer as J. Robert Oppenheimer

A scientist herself, Bette Winer was drawn to this particularly powerful monologue from Carson Kreitzer’s compelling play, The Love Song of J. Robert Oppenheimer.   In this passage, the scientist reflects upon the volatile age that he and his Los Alamos crew ushered in when they invented the modern devil, the atomic bomb.

The Cast of CAST’s “Going Solo” Presentation

So, is CAST a closed group?  NO.  Does one have to audition in order to be involved?  NO.  What if you’ve never been on stage in your life but are kind of interested in maybe trying some acting–is this something you could join?   YES!  And so, how would you go about doing that?

Just watch the Bulletin for announcements of our upcoming meeting times (next at BOLLI on Thursday, January 5 from 12:00 – 1:30) when we engage in lots of fun activity–we do some warm-ups, play some theatre games, engage in some improvisation, read scenes and/or plays, and so on.  No experience necessary–just a desire to have some creative fun!

Want to know more about BOLLI’s Special Interest Groups?  Click here:  https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/33972419/SIGS.pdf

The BOLLI Journal’s First Annual Literary and Artistic “Salon”

KICKING OFF THE 2018 BOLLI JOURNAL

by Maxine Weintraub, Editor 

The BOLLI Journal committee hosted its first lunchtime program on Monday. November 14th—a literary and artistic “salon” in the spirit of Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas.  We drank alcohol-free bubbly and indulged in cheese and crackers, brownies and grapes as we explored the creative process and its place in the BOLLI Program.  Steve Goldfinger’s poetry (below left), Barbara Jordan’s photos and paintings (middle with Marjorie Roemer), and Jane Kay’s (right with Margie Arons-Barron) tale of a lovingly remembered childhood icon, a blue glass slipper, delighted the audience.  Listening to each of these creative BOLLI members answer questions from Marjorie Roemer, Sue Wurster, and Margie Arons-Barron brought into focus the way in which BOLLI members change and grow as they explore and develop new talents within the BOLLI environment.

Thanks to all who came and participated.  We look forward to many more such programs and invite all of our BOLLI members to become involved with the next Journal issue.  Please submit your poetry, fiction, non-fiction, photos, and art to the Journal – submissions open from now until June of 2017.  In the spirit of sharing, we include the brownie recipe–not from the Toklas’ cookbook and with no hidden ingredients.  In fact, the recipe includes no leavening agents at all!

For specifics on the submissions process, please click here for the BOLLI Journal flyer.

brownies

MAXINE’S (Not Alice’s) BROWNIE RECIPE

Grease and flour a 9 x 12” pan                                                                     preheat oven to 350                                                                                                        in saucepan, melt two sticks of butter and one 4 oz package                            unsweetened chocolate                                                                             remove from heat                                                                                                         beat in two cups of sugar and one teaspoon vanilla                               beat in four eggs                                                                                                             mix in one cup of all-purpose flour                                                                       fold in one package semi-sweet chocolate bits                                           pour into prepared pan                                                                                            bake until done (about 25 minutes, depending upon your oven)     cool on rack and try not to eat them all at one sitting.

Possible variations on this recipe are endless.  Any kind of chocolate chips will do.  Try adding a fruit cup mix at holiday time.  Nuts. Almond flavoring.

Maxine Weintraub reading
BOLLI Journal Editor, Maxine Weintraub

Maxine Weintraub, who heads the 2018 BOLLI Journal committee as editor, is no stranger to arts and letters magazines.  She is a regular contributor to The Goose River Anthology and has produced two volumes of her short stories.

 

CAST-ing Our Lines! Another New BOLLI Special Interest Group

Dropping by the BOLLI Gathering Space at 60 Turner Street on a Tuesday afternoon, you might find some unusual activity underway as CAST members work to discover, develop, and refine their performance skills in the dramatic arts.

An outgrowth of BOLLI’s long-standing “Scene-iors” Acting Troupe (an annual springtime course offering in which participants work on and present a staged reading of a play for the BOLLI community-wide audience), CAST provides interested members with opportunities to engage in a variety of creative drama/theatre exercises and basic acting work.

During each CAST session, the group does some warm-up pantomime followed by improvisation, concentration, and observation exercises. The techniques explored are then applied to short scenes from short stories, novels and plays as well as poetry.

Recently, after a rousing session of pantomimed catch and jump rope, the group was split into two sections who were each charged with the task of creating tableaux highlighting “the key moment” in its well-known fairy tale. Of course, at BOLLI, this meant first spending several minutes in highly animated intellectual discussion and debate about which moments in these tales are truly seminal. (In “Red Riding Hood,” for example, is it when the wolf gobbles up Red? Or is it when the Woodsman arrives on the scene? In “Cinderella,” is it when Cindy loses her slipper or when the Prince arrives to try it on the Ugly Stepsisters?) The intensity and commitment to the work were palpable.

Later in that session, various “misunderstood” fairy tale characters appeared on an improvised Dr. Phil-like television talk show to air their woes. Here, Snow White’s Queen (Judy Blatt) and Cinderella’s Stepmother (Sandy Clifford) share their frustrations with their television audience.

MALIGNED MOMS Snow White's Queen (Judy Blatt) and Cinderella's Stepmother (Sandy Clifford)
MALIGNED MOMS Snow White’s Queen (Judy Blatt) and Cinderella’s Stepmother (Sandy Clifford)

During another session, we delved into the importance of “focus” in setting any scene and applied what was learned about the use of the eye to scenes offering particular “focal” challenges. Becki Norman, Monique Frank, and Eileen Mitchell (below) take some planning time to determine how to approach George’s Marvelous Medicine by Roald Dahl, a story in which young George’s Grandmother downs a dose of quite a nasty concoction which gives her such a jolt of energy that she shoots up to the ceiling where she is suspended for some time.

GEORGE 1
SETTING THEIR SCENE Becki Norman, Monique Frank, and Eileen Mitchell

 

GEORGE
George (Monique) is stunned to see Grandma (Becki) in robust, rising movement.

Another group—consisting of Irwin Garfinkle, Judy Blatt, and Bunny Cohen—took on the challenge provided by The Fruit at the Bottom of the Bowl, a short story by Ray Bradbury in which a man who has just committed a murder becomes completely obsessed with removing his fingerprints from every inch of the man’s home.

FRUIT
OBSESSION TAKES HOLD Irwin Garfinkle, Judy Blatt, Bunny Cohen

FRUIT 2

After the two groups viewed each other’s work, Bunny broke into a huge smile. “This is so much fun!” she said to the rest of the CAST. Then she grinned.  “Remember when we used to just stand there and read?”

The group will continue to meet on Tuesdays throughout August and then, when the new term begins, will switch to a Friday time. Watch the weekly Bulletin for meeting announcements—any interested BOLLI member is welcome to CAST a line at any point!