‘Beyond the Ages’ connects women -- from seniors to high school students

An intergenerational theatre project brought together high school students with residents from a local retirement center to share thoughts and memories of the past, and hopes and fears for the future.

This spring, teaching artists from Kaiser Permanente’s Educational Theatre Program (ETP) embarked on an entirely new type of project.

Members of ETP brought high school students together with residents from Cherrywood Retirement Village, and asked them to share their perceptions of each other, their memories from the past, and their hopes and fears for the future.

Participants young and old started to explore the value of intergenerational relationships. Yana Kostna, 16, expressed how easy it was to find common ground: “I didn’t expect to have so many similarities … they talk about issues they faced that are completely relevant today.”

In keeping with ETP’s mission to “inspire people to make healthy choices and build strong communities,” this program invited participants to find common ground, gain a better understanding of one another’s unique challenges, and reflect on the ongoing impact of choices made in youth.

“[It] helped me better understand my past,” says Maudie Cheney, 78.

The project featured nine young women, ranging from ages 14–17, and six older women, ranging from ages 78–88. Led by ETP teaching artists Roberto Arce and Emily Newton, the group worked for more than five weeks to create an original performance through storytelling, improvisation, and writing prompts. A public performance took place March 23.

For more than 25 years, Kaiser Permanente has brought health education to our communities through the Educational Theatre Program. Live theater productions and artist-in-residence programs are offered to schools and communities free of charge in each of Kaiser Permanente’s regions. In the northwest, Kaiser Permanente has partnered with Oregon Children’s Theatre for more than 10 years to bring this vital work to our community, serving nearly 300,000 students, teachers, and families. Themes of past plays include obesity and bullying, healthy eating, mental health and wellness, and peer pressure.

Founded in 1988, Oregon Children’s Theatre has served well over two million children, teachers, and families. Its mission is to create exceptional theater experiences that transform lives. OCT is Oregon’s largest nonprofit professional children’s theater company and a resident company of Portland’5 Centers for the Arts. Performances are held weekdays for school audiences and on weekends for family audiences. OCT serves more than 120,000 children of all ages each year. OCT offers numerous school services including study guides, teacher professional development opportunities, in-school workshops, and an extensive outreach program. OCT’s year-round Acting Academy offers theater classes for children ages 3-18 and Young Professionals Company, a mentoring program for teens.

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