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Alive & Kickin is and will continue to monitor all CDC and MDH information and updates during the Corona Virus pandemic. Following recommendations, Alive & Kickin has had to suspend all rehearsals and cancel the current schedule of Community Concerts, Fundraising Events and postpone the upcoming inter-generational collaboration with Stages Theatre Company, Peace 4 the Ages. Sadly, with our county in turmoil, we could all use a bit of PEACE in our lives right now.
Due to the Covid-19 outbreak, we have lost crucial revenue sources through our Community Concerts, Fundraising Events and Upcoming Shows. We are asking for your immediate support to help us continue to care for our Seniors during this time. Your urgent donation is especially imperative to us right now.
Seniors are not only the most vulnerable high-risk group for the Corona Virus but they are also often one of the most isolated populations. Part of our mission at Alive & Kickin is to bring Seniors out of isolation and be the face of what it means to age defiantly in today’s world. The Corona Virus will not stop us from smashing the stereotypes around aging and honoring our Seniors.
The Alive & Kickin staff is working tirelessly to keep our Seniors engaged and connected. We need to keep providing a sense of community for each other in times when we are all social distancing and may feel afraid and alone. We all know that a sense of community is a powerful and healing balm and we aim high to make sure that our community remains intact.
OUR IMMEDIATE NEED…
As we continue to lose vital revenue from mandated cancellations and Loss of Arts Fundingwe are in critical need of support to ensure that we are able to continue our mission.
We cannot do this without our staff. Many arts organizations are in similar circumstances and need to lay off their staff during Covid-19. At Alive & Kickin we are a small but mighty team; each and every individual is essential to keep our mission moving forward.
We are as committed to our staff as they are to Seniors Everywhere.
But we can’t do it without YOU. Your donation today is critical.
Your financial gift of support during this time is crucial. Thank you for your continued support of our Senior members. You are helping to Redefine Aging, Honor Seniors and Inspire Everyone.
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Intergenerational musical brings together actors age 11 to 87 in Hopkins
The performance brings together Stages Theatre Company and Alive & Kickin’ to focus on peace.
By Zoë Jackson Star Tribune | January 17, 2020
Rehearsals began only after the groups shared handwritten letters. From left, Alison Johnson, Kyla Plair and Sophie Farrell. Photo: Fischeye Films
An original production will bring youth and elders together in a Hopkins musical focused on peace.
The collaboration centers on two groups whose perspectives are often overlooked and puts them at center stage.
Sandy Boren-Barrett and Michael Matthew Ferrell came together with their respective organizations, Stages Theatre Company and Alive & Kickin,’ to create a show called “Peace 4 the Ages,” which debuts in March.
Stages has produced youth theater productions since 1984; Alive & Kickin’ has celebrated performers ages 60 and older for 10 years. Both organizations prioritize giving a voice to people who don’t always have one, said Ferrell.
“Oftentimes in both of those worlds, those voices are stifled, they’re discounted. People don’t take them seriously,” Ferrell said.
The cast of 28 people ranges in age from 11 to 87, making their perspectives on peace complex and varied. “For many of these young people, they’re not often asked what peace really means to them,” Boren-Barrett said.
Above, Riley Gamades charmed Mary Kay Fortier Spalding. Photo: Fischeye Films
The 90-minute show consists of writings, songs, video and dance, among other elements. Its heart comes from friendships formed through a pen-pal connection. Each participant wrote three letters to their pen pal before their first meeting.
“We decided the best way for them to connect was to be paired up and begin letter-writing,” Boren-Barrett said. Each group was given a prompt, she said, “that started the conversation in a really nonjudgmental, nonthreatening way.”
All the pairings put pen to paper to write about what peace felt like to them — or what peace wasn’t.
“We’re not telling them what their perspective on peace should be,” Boren-Barrett said. “We are just engaging them in conversation to figure out what it is to them.”
While their first letter was fairly formal, cast member Mary Ponthan of St. Louis Park said the second letter allowed her to open up about her travels, funny songs and her experiences.
“The farther on with the letters we got, the more articulate we got and the more truthful he got,” Ponthan, 75, said of her peace partner, Sayer Keeley, 15, of Shoreview.
“And so at the end of the letters, the letters were intensely human.”
“I remember saying something like peace is just overall togetherness,” Keeley said. “Just being a part of one huge diverse group of people that all accept each other and care about each other.”
Ponthan took a different spin on peace.
“I said that I thought peace was listening to a bird outside of my window with the TV off and no radio and conversations about nothing,” Ponthan said.
Eric Paulson, 59, of Bloomington, was paired with 15-year-old Samara Koshiol of Eden Prairie.
“It was very important that we physically wrote the letter,” Paulson said. “We really had to think about what we were writing to a person we didn’t really know,” he said, adding that he hadn’t written an emotional letter like that in a long time.
Koshiol’s reaction was similar. “This is unlike anything I’ve ever done before,” said Koshiol, who said she had never handwritten a letter.
“I knew that I was getting to know a kind person, but I couldn’t visualize them at first,” she said.
To read their final letter, the elders met in one room and the young people in another to read them separately. Then all the cast members came together to meet their partners.
“It was really beautiful,” Boren-Barrett said, and surprisingly humorous.
“It was so funny, because so many of the elders were like, ‘I kept laying out different clothes thinking this is like a first date, what am I gonna wear?’ They all wanted to get to know this person on a really unique level,” Boren-Barrett said.
The pairs then embarked on a face-to-face partnership that will last several months. With elders who have served and children who have been bullied, these rehearsals can be tear-jerkers, said Ferrell.
“I literally just sobbed right in the rehearsal,” Ferrell said. “Regardless of where you’re from, how you grew up, your economic status — peace is something that is universal, that every person can talk about.”
The choose-your-own adventure nature of the production has been in the works for more than a year. The process got fully underway with a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board in June 2019.
Keeley and Ponthan have been involved with theater for years but there are no shows like this one, they agreed.
“This show is just very different, because I’m really used to being in shows with a very set story line,” Keeley said. “This is more just like an overall, ‘Let’s enjoy what we are together and not focus on where we’re going or what we’re doing.’ It’s just us together, showing you guys peace together,” Keeley said.
“They’re not asking us to be someone that we’re not,” Ponthan added. “So it’s not a lot of work to be a character because we’re already characters enough.”
The creators hope attendees feel reflective, inspired and challenged — just as the cast members have been — about peace, age and having a voice.
They also hope the intergenerational production will attract a diverse audience.
“I think it will be very reflective for people,” Paulson said. Ponthan agreed.
“It’s real easy to clump everybody together and say the big word ‘they,’ ” she said.
“And what this does is it gives us a chance to not only individually see someone, but an entire group.”
This show begins with stuffed peppers. My stepmom, Cyndy would make them every weekend – and they were good, people — blue-ribbon-at-the-state-fair good. To this day, even though Cyndy is gone, whenever I smell the rich, herbal aroma of stuffed peppers, see one behind the counter of deli, or read about them on a restaurant menu, I think of Cyndy: carefully lifting one out of the pyrex with a spatula and a fork to put on my plate. That is what I call a Flashback: something simple that brings back a memory or a story. For me, it’s Cyndy’s stuffed peppers. For others, it might be a butterfly in the garden or the sound of rain on an attic roof. Memories are potent, powerful things.
The rockin senior ensemble, 60-99+ years young, presented an ALL NEW show, that was an eclectic blend of popular songs from contemporary artists combined with heartfelt, honest and raw emotion-filled personal stories from our senior cast. It truly was an ethereal experience that captivated and exhilarated!
“The 60’s” was a powerful vibe of music, touching personal stories about living in the 60’s and being over the age of 60. Alive & Kickin performed to more than 2,800 people over the two-week run. Every performance was a sell-out audience with multiple standing ovations and many first-time visitors. We are left humbled and inspired. We have heard from many of you – in emails, after the show and on our Facebook, this was a “MUST SEE” experience that touched hearts of all ages.
Connecting with our fans is just one more perk of leading a rockin roll senior ensemble. The interesting characters, the talent, the stories and kindness keep us all motivated to bring our inspirational message to the masses. We are continually trying to find ways to connect with fans and an event that continues to be super successful each year is the Cast Party.