Seniors Get In The Act

April 24, 1991|By Marc LeGoff

In a monologue she was rehearsing during her acting class at the Florence Bain Senior Center, 69-year-old Ruth DeBoy of Columbia portrayed a mother who walked into her son's room, only to find a strange woman in his bed.

Actually, the scene from John Patrick's "Love Is A Time Of Day" originally called for the son's girlfriend to stumble inon the female stranger. And furthermore, the stranger was really only a mannequin the son had borrowed from a department store to make his girlfriend jealous because she would not consummate their relationship.

But Ruth decided to alter the script a bit, finding it more believable to be the young man's mother than his love interest.

Aaaah. The poetic license of the "the-uh-tre."

"Excuse me. I don't know who you are or what you're doing here, but could I speak to you for a minute?" Ruth asked the mannequin in an embarrassed yet somewhat angered tone, emphasizing the word, "speak."

"Excuse me. Could I speakto you?" she repeated.

This particular class, which runs for 1 1/2 hours each Thursday afternoon, was devoted to phrasing or "beat," as volunteer drama teacher Kristine Holland called it.

The course will continue through early June, culminating with a class performancefor fellow seniors at the center featuring pantomime and group skits.

"Working with this group is both rewarding and fun," said Holland, 20, a sophomore at Howard Community College. "They have so much life experience to draw from. It helps them think about the motivationfor the scenes or improvs they're practicing."

In a scene from William Hanley's "Slow Dance on the Killing Ground," Abe Bates, 75, portrayed a New York City candy store owner reminiscing about the guilt he felt for leaving his Jewish wife and son behind in World War II Germany.

Bates, a retired mathematician and economist from Woodbine,said that in creating the character, he drew from real-life conversations he's had with several concentration camp survivors from both Germany and Japan.

"Kristine is very knowledgeable. She's trying to teach us the basic facets of acting that will help us develop our characters and make our work more real," said Henry Black of Columbia, who admits to being "somewhere between the age of 76 and 78."

"Personally, I have multiple personalities to draw from. I make Bela Lugosi look like an amateur."

Holland agreed. "He's a real life character," she said of Black.

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