The UWM Center for Student Volunteerism and Leadership is recruiting, training, and coordinating students to facilitate creative storytelling with residents through the Creative Trust. Students can fulfill service hours (for class or scholarship requirements) through this program. Students attend an orientation meeting, take the TimeSlips Online training, and form teams to visit and facilitate storytelling at various sites. TimeSlips is an improvisational storytelling method that opens storytelling to everyone by replacing the pressure to remember with the freedom to imagine.
The CTM hopes to coordinate storytelling celebrations at the end of each semester.
With the assistance of Jim Radke, we are also recruiting older volunteers to create intergenerational teams of story facilitators.
If you are interested in volunteering, contact the UWM Center for Student Volunteerism and Leadership.
On Tuesday November 6th (an otherwise busy day for America…), The CTM held a creative discussion on the upcoming UWM Theatre Department production of The Tragedy of King Lear at EastCastle Place. CTM facilitator Anne Basting, UWM Theatre student Nolen Borne, and decorated Shakespeare actor and co-founder of Shakespeare and Company (Lenox, MA) Dennis Krausnick engaged the group in a lively discussion. On November 8th, the merry band of three joined a large group of residents and staff at Chai Point at the Jewish Home and Care Center.
Talking Lear at EastCastle Place with Dennis Krausnick and Lotte Emde
A few conversational highlights that we won’t soon forget:
- Lear wrestles with how to retire. His (rather bad decision) is to keep the mantle of “King” but give all the responsibility to the children who most convincingly and publicly profess their love to him. Participants talked about how those decisions resonated in their own lives.
- Lear keeps 100 knights, which is daughters gradually insist are too rowdy and hard to handle, and force him to be rid of them. After he loses his last 15 knights, Lear no longer knows himself. We asked “what are your knights?” What is it, that without it, you might no longer understand your role? Driving? Work? Anne shared a story about a production of King Lear by Roots & Branches Theatre in NYC, that explored that question. In that production a woman told a story about how that question suddenly helped her understand her own mother who refused to give up wearing high heels, even in her 90s.
- Nolen asked the group at EastCastle Place “What does one generation owe the next?” “Nothing!” replied one woman. “You make your own way! It’s Karma.” Other responses were more nuanced. “The terrible 70s are payback for the terrible 2’s” joked one woman. Another woman said “It’s not about owing. It’s about loving and giving, and not expecting in return.” “You hope that you’ve created moments of giving and loving throughout your life.”
- Dennis talked about his experience as an older actor playing Lear (5 times now in various productions). In the most recent, Lear’s daughters were played by women in their 40s/50s. In this production at UWM, his daughters are played by young women 19/20 years old. The feeling he described was profoundly different. “In the character of Lear, there’s a feeling of terror, handing over your kingdom to people with no life experience.”
- Participants at Chai Point were fascinated by the story and especially the ending. “What does it mean that Shakespeare didn’t reestablish order at the end?” (there is a big pile of bodies on stage at the end of Lear). Dennis pointed out that Lear’s kingdom and its total and violent rule, will be no more. This is a promising ending. Director Rebecca Holderness chose the last days of Czarist Russia as her setting for this same reason.
- A resident and former actor mused about the teaching of acting. Can it really be taught? Or do we simply provide opportunities for student actors to hone their craft? We hope to have further intergenerational conversations on that very astute question.
Residents are invited to attend the matinee performances of the Tragedy of King Lear on Thursday the 15th and Sunday the 18th of November, and to help facilitate/participate in post-show discussions. The production is part of the 50th anniversary celebration of the UWM Peck School of the Arts, in this, the Year of the Arts at UWM. More more information click here.
For a short and fascinating article on aging and themes in Lear, see Paula Span’s article in the NYT’s.
The Let’s Talk series continues this spring with Let’s Talk: Wild Party and Let’s Talk: Meet Me at the Avant Garde.
The Creative Trust began in July 2012 around a table in St. Johns on the Lake, where activity and life enrichment specialists, volunteer coordinators, UWM faculty and staff, and educators from cultural institutions gathered for a common purpose: to foster life-long learning in the arts. Our second meeting in October 2012 at Chai Point told the story of exciting progress and visionary plans. Facilitating the collaborative is Anne Basting (me…), Assoc. Professor of Theatre at UWM’s Peck School of the Arts.