Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

December 31, 2012

Reader's Theater coming to Fair Park

By Tina Taylor
Chronicle correspondent

CROSSVILLE — Reader's Theater is easy. There's no memorizing lines. You do not have to have props, costumes or sets, which makes it convenient.  

School teachers have found great success in using Reader's Theater in their classrooms. It is an approach for involving students in reading, writing, listening and speaking activities. Oral reading aloud with expression, comprehension, joy and fluency, makes Reader's Theater is a real miracle worker. The shy students open up and develop a strong sense of self-esteem, with fun scripts of good dialogue.

Reader's Theater storytelling can create images by suggestion, creating characters going into unknown worlds with exciting journeys. The performers and the audience are freed from the physical theater, which lets your imagination soar outside a stage. You can carry it further, adding props, sound effects and costumes and also performing for other groups.

Seniors centers across the country have been picking up on all the drama. It is a popular way to have fun, acting out comedy, without having to memorize your lines. Seniors are full of character and find it makes them feel young again pretending to be someone else, as they did when they were children. It can be somewhat like the old-time radio shows, many seniors grew up listening to.

Some of the well-known senior groups are called The Off Their Rockers Troupe, Past Prime Players, Boomers on Stage and The Recyclables. One group has even performed their acts at the White House.

The Fair Park instructor for this new Reader’s Theater is Terry Burgess. He has always enjoyed acting since his first TV role in a children’s show in New York. He was involved in acting in school, and later in 2000, Burgess was chosen to be the attorney in an award-winning movie with Sissy Spacek called In the Bedroom, playing along with Tom Wilkerson and Marisa Tomei. The picture was nominated for five academy awards and won the drama award at the Sundance Film Festival. Now, Burgess is opening the door for seniors to experience the art of acting for fun, with short comedy plays.

The secret to having fun is not to take yourself so seriously. Whether you are an amateur or skilled professional, if this sounds like something you would enjoy getting involved with,  sign up. Classes will start Wednesday, Jan. 9, from 2 to 4 p.m. Bilbrey Funeral Home in Crossville sponsors the arts at Fair Park Senior Center.

Tap dancing is also considered an art, and starting Friday, Jan. 11, from 1 to 2 p.m. Billie Faye Brannon will be teaching this class to the seniors at the center. Now that is active!

Also, the third annual Gong Show, a Fair Park fundraiser, is looking for crazy skits and  acts. It can be a take off from your favorite TV show or commercial. This is a real think-outside-the-box show and will need your help right now for the Friday, Feb. 22 show.

Start your new year out, getting active at Fair Park Senior Center. The center is at 1433 Livingston Rd. and is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information, call 484-7416 or check out the website at www.fairparkseniorcenter.org.