Saturday, 15 May 2010

AgeExchange, cross generational performance

My nan has always acted since i was very little in a group called Age Exchange (although, back then i think it was under a different name 'the good companions' ) It is a reminiscence group that focuses on the experience of OAPs during the war and after. How they were bought up and how the second world war affected their lives. They always included a bit of a sing song, a tap dance from 'Kitty' (a long standing member of the group) and some Jokes about the 'old days'- with a small amount o f reality thrown back at the audience.
My nan wasn't always an actress and to be honest i don't think any of the other members were, but the group has always had a focus of giving the older generation confidence in their own abilities of story telling.
Although my nan hasn't acted in one of these plays for a while (She's just had her second hip replacement) she has just been called back to Blackheath (The reminiscence centre- see photo) to see if she wants a part in a new play that will be exploring the memories of the Age Exchange members and a group from the young peoples theatre group (Ages from about 10- 19).
I have been along to the first couple of rehearsals, and it is really interesting to watch this play being formed from peoples memories and the inks between these memories and stories. My nan has spoken about her experience of working with her dad, taking the horse and cart over the Woolwich ferry, a young girl has spoken about how her mother was bought over to England from Jamaica only to find that her own mother didn't recognise her, there have also been other exercises which involve talking about experiences of being on a bus, Its surprising how many people have exactly the same stressful memories about buses.
I'm hoping to have a part in this play at some point, so far i have just been listening and talking to people. All of my nans friends remember me which is sweet, I think i went to the centre when i was bout 10 to stuff envelopes! Kitty is still there too, the director is currently trying to find a way to get her to dance in the play.
I think the most interesting part for me at the moment is finding out how a 'Brechtian' play can be made in such a normal way. As these people are acting they just suddenly break into talking to the audience which is so natural, yet theoretically isn't so normal.