LGBT Senior Performers Create Theatre from Their Own Stories in:
Life in the First Gay City
June 28, 2015 Renberg Theatre
NewStAGES is a theatre company dedicated to bringing dynamic and engaging arts experiences to senior citizens in Southern California. Featuring a group of 17 performers at the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Village at Ed Gould Plaza in a show about life in West Hollywood. They dance, they sing, they laugh and cry. Ranging in age from 55 – 87, this troupe, otherwise known as NewStAGES, is creating the story of Life in the First Gay City, performed June 28 at the Renberg Theatre, from their own experiences.
“This is a generation of people, many of whom lived half of their lives in the closet and the other half of their lives seeing the most progressive time for LGBT equality in history,” says Mark Salyer, director of the musical theatre workshop that NewStAGES brings to the Center’s Senior Services each spring. “Theirs is a unique and powerful prospective.
This year’s production, Life in the First Gay City is part of West Hollywood’s One City One Pride LGBTQ Arts Festival, which this year celebrates the 30th Anniversary of Cityhood with the theme ‘WeHo@30, Life@30’. Events take place from Harvey Milk Day, May 22, to the end of June, with a special full day of theatre in Plummer Park on June 27.
Mayor of West Hollywood, Lindsey Horvath says, “I am so pleased that the City of West Hollywood is funding this performance through the One City One Pride grant program. All too often, the voices of an aging LGBT population are silenced or ignored. This grant is an investment in our history and in bringing to life the stories of those who personally struggled and achieved unprecedented milestones for the LGBT community.”
In 2012, Bruce Bierman, Artistic Director of NewStAGES, first brought a group of teaching artists to the center to work with the seniors.
“The NewStAGES teaching faculty realized from our very first day at the Center that we were working with an amazing group of fierce individuals,” says Bierman. “All had inspiring stories, talents and gifts that just needed a kind of theatrical forum so they could share and inspire others with the simple message that ‘It’s never too late’ to tap into that wealth of creativity and imagination.”
Since 2012, the troupe has produced a show each year, including songs from Company, Gray Hair and last year’s No Day But Today, all performed at the Renberg Theatre.
The Center’s Senior Services hosts NewStAGES workshops and performances.
“Activities like NewStAGES are vital for our senior clients to showcase their talents and share compelling stories about their lives,” says Kathleen Sullivan, Director of Senior Services. “Each member of NewStAGES has been fully committed to this brilliant production, and we look forward to watching their creative expressions onstage.“
NewStAGES, formed to bring dynamic arts experiences to seniors, hopes to expand their programming to other area senior and LGBT centers and organizations. “We’re working to begin a Palm Springs set of workshops this Fall,” adds Salyer.
Meanwhile, the seniors of the Los Angeles LGBT Center are hard at work on their production. Kay Cole and Mark Salyer direct and Kathryn Lounsbery musical directs.
The performance is June 28, 2015 at 6:00 PM at the Renberg Theatre at The Village at Ed Gould Plaza. Tickets are free of charge. For reservations please call 323-860-5830.
For more information on the LGBT Center in Los Angeles go to: lalgbtcenter.org
For more information about NewStAGES please call 323.868.1352
By Patrick Hurley
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