NYU - New York University

11/05/2019 | News release | Distributed by Public on 11/05/2019 16:45

NYU Steinhardt’s Drama Therapy to Stage Pilot Production of ‘Fiddler on the Roof SR.' with Senior Community Members in November

The acting bug can bite at any age-just ask the residents of Penn South, a naturally occurring retirement community (NORC) located in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood. Seniors from that co-op will stage Fiddler on the Roof SR., a pilot program featuring an adaptation of the popular Broadway musical intended for an older cast. Performances take place November 21-24 at NYU's Black Box Theatre.

Fiddler on the Roof SR. is a pilot program collaboration between Penn South Program for Seniors (PSPS); NYU Steinhardt's Drama Therapy program; JASA, one of New York's largest non-profits serving local older adults; and the theatrical licensing company Music Theatre International (MTI), which is developing the Broadway Senior program.

Students from Drama Therapy have been working with members of PSPS, which addresses the social needs of the co-op's older members who have 'aged in place.' Every student has partnered with one senior actor to help them get into character, rehearse scenes and songs, and exchange reflections on the meaning of the play in their lives.

'Theatre-making with older adults can offer an opportunity to learn new skills and express one's creativity. It can decrease loneliness, increase one's sense of achievement, purpose, and happiness, enhance intergenerational relationships, and challenge ageist stereotypes-plus it's fun,' said Nisha Sajnani, director for this production and of the Drama Therapy program and Theatre and Health Lab at NYU.

Aging can be particularly isolating, and the opportunity to take part in amateur theater has offered residents a supportive social setting. Participants gather weekly to rehearse their choreography, music, blocking, and more. 'For me, it's the people,' said Hilda Aronson, who plays the role of Yente in the production. The 87-year-old was particularly struck by Steinhardt's students. 'I think they are the future and salvation because they took their artistic gift and they're using it to serve,' she said. 'They're all so magnificent and so talented.'