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Volume 24, Number 8 — August 2017

Age, The Arts & Education: The Barter (Theatre) Experience

Rebecca Harrington was so impressed with The Barter Experience that she now serves on Barter Theatre's media and legislative committee, and attends performances on the Main Stage and Stage II.
Rebecca Harrington was so impressed with The Barter Experience that she now serves on Barter Theatre's media and legislative committee, and attends performances on the Main Stage and Stage II.

By ANGELA WAMPLER | August 26, 2008

Rebecca Harrington, 64, began participating in The Barter Experience at SVHEC shortly after moving to Abingdon less than two years ago.

Previously she lived in Washington, D.C., where she was a photographer for the U.S. Congress, taking pictures of congressional members with visiting dignitaries and attending committee hearings.

She was a member of the Smithsonian Associates, an organization offering lectures, films, and day/week-long trips primarily for people who live in the D.C. area.

"I moved to the city when I was 21," Harrington remembers. "When I retired three years ago, I wanted to get out of the city, but I didn't want to move to a cultural wasteland. Barter Theatre and (SVHEC's) College for Older Adults offer so much variety that I don't feel the least bit deprived of
anything. The quality and quantity of things available, and the talent is overflowing in this area.
It's everywhere."

Seniors in The Barter Experience are able to attend four different matinees for a student price of $15 each. The first class is an "Introduction to Barter." The next classes feature discussions of the plays they saw. Guest speakers representing an artistic aspect of each play enhance the discussions. The last class is a backstage tour.

When Harrington enrolled, the first guest speaker was actor Eugene Wolf, who was starring in Keep on the Sunny Side. Harrington says Wolf told the class about what has to take place for actors to do what they do. For example, Wolf once had a role that required him to play guitar, and he had to learn
to do that.

The next speaker was actress Mary Lucy Bivens (starring in Driving Miss Daisy), followed by actor Mike Ostroski (at that time appearing in Dracula). Harrington admits, "I almost didn't go to see
Dracula, thinking 'how many times do I need to see that production?' But I went to support the theatre, and I'm so glad I did. I was dumbstruck by the show — from the very beginning, which had several minutes with absolutely no dialogue, just all visuals. I certainly had never seen Dracula done quite that way, and to think I almost missed it."

Last, but not least, the class heard from Barter's Producing Artistic Director, Richard Rose. "He spoke as enthusiastically with us as if speaking to the U.S. Congress or the Parliament. His enthusiasm never seems to wane," Harrington says. "He gave us information that helped us understand the many facets of the theatre." Harrington was so impressed with The Barter Experience that she is now involved with Barter on a more personal level. She now serves on Barter's media and legislative committee, and in August, she attended the readings and mini-productions during Barter's Appalachian Festival of Plays & Playwrights (AFPP).

She says she is "a great believer in keeping busy not for the sake of keeping busy. Some seniors constantly stay busy, but sometimes they try too hard. I've never felt the urge to fill my days and nights. I enjoy the pleasures of being idle, to really do only the things I'm excited about."

MEET LOCAL SENIORS who are passionate about The Arts and education.

CAROL BELL
, 67, joins in discussions at SVHEC about women writers: "Some people mention other books. Everyone does away with news things to read and a new focus on the Appalachian region and the writers."

ANNE ARMENTROUT
, 60, loves words so Improvisation & Creative Movement is right up her alley: "The class provides exercises not only for the body, but also for the mind and imagination."

SEAN O'SULLIVAN
, 87, views the College for Older Adults as "a jewel in the mountains." He says, "It's like a social mixer, also. I've met people there that I would not have met otherwise."

ALMA RIGBY
, 73, can usually be found taking one of Virginia Intermont's classes for seniors: "I love to do things with young people."

JOAN HORSCH
, 76, has participated in the Arts Array Film Discussions for 10 years: "The film discussions are really interesting because someone else always sees something you didn't see or has an extremely different impression of what the ending means."

PROGRAMS
for older adults available in the region.

HISTORIC EXAMPLES:
The Arts & the Brains of Older Adults

BACK
to the main story: "The Arts & the Brains of Older Adults."