“This work is a love story, and a prayer, and a padlocked box of memories all rolled into one, gleaming from the stage.”

– Lucy Gellman, Editor, The Arts Paper

Our Genesis Program takes place at Long Wharf Theatre through its Elder Play Project engaging seniors in attending and creating theatre.

Last season, the Elder Play Project engaged its participants in a collaborative experience that built storytelling skills, improved social connections, as well as connected and recorded their life experiences in response to Long Wharf Theatre’s productions performed at both Long Wharf Theatre’s Stage II and to their own production that was performed in their retirement community and at Long Wharf.

The group explored themes such as silence, reflection, and retreat in Small Mouth Sounds; companionship and finding love in Fireflies; family and faith journeys in The Chosen; isolation and acceptance in Office Hour; and loss, traditions, and the passing on of generational wisdom in Crowns.

The program is committed to engaging seniors in the New Haven area’s residential centers through programming and conversations prior to seeing a production at the theatre. Then the members of the Elder Play Project in partnership with Tower One/Tower East go one step further to write stories from their own experiences and work with Long Wharf Theatre resident artists to weave them into a performance piece shared with 250+ family, friends, and community members on our stage and again at their residence.

Long Wharf Theatre’s Elder Play Project (EPP) engages 15 to 20 residents of The Towers (formerly Tower One Tower East), an assisted living facility in downtown New Haven. The program runs parallel with Long Wharf’s subscription-series plays, from October to June of each year. Program participants attend performances, take part in writing workshops, and perform a devised work of theatre for the community. EPP is provided at no cost to The Towers or its residents.

This season, EPP participants will attend Long Wharf’s productions of Jen Silverman’s The Roommate; Dominique Morisseau’s Paradise Blue; Boo Killebrew’s Miller, Mississippi; Nia Varadlos’ adaptation of Cheryl Strayed’s Tiny Beautiful Things; Lisa Peterson and Denis O’Hare’s adaptation of Homer’s An Iliad; and Lucas Hnath’s A Doll’s House, Part 2.

Throughout the season, a Long Wharf Theatre teaching artist leads workshops that illuminate the play’s plot and themes, explore the historical and social context of the play, and provide biographical information on the playwright. Following the show, participants will gather for a short talkback and then respond to writing prompts. By the end of the season, participants will have attended twelve 90-minute workshops and six professionally-produced productions.

Photo credit: Lucy Gellman, Editor, The Arts Paper, 475.441.4058 •  newhavenarts.org

Narratives from the six writing sessions are transcribed by Long Wharf teaching artists who cull through the stories looking for complimentary and disparate narratives that combine to tell the richness of EPP members’ life experiences. They weave their words into a script, which is rehearsed by the EPP participants under the guidance of their community engagement team members. A staged reading by the EPP members is presented to the general public at Long Wharf Theatre as well as an encore performance at The Towers for the participants’ friends and family.

Genesis Program is supported by The Daryl and Steven Roth Foundation.

Glimpse into the rehearsal process in this great article by Lucy Gellman, Editor, The Arts Paper

Learn more about the Elder Play Program