Guest Columnist Harriet Lynn, Cedar Street Times, 10-16-2015
Throughout the past 11 months, “Keepers of Our Culture” has stressed the importance of writing down our memories, of creating a written record of our life stories to entertain, instruct and inspire future generations. However, that’s not to say that our stories cannot be shared by other means—including on stage in a live theater setting. This week’s guest columnist, Harriet Lynn, shares with us an exciting new oral history project to celebrate the city of Carmel’s 100th anniversary. Perhaps a reader from Pacific Grove will be inspired to create something similar for our community!
Oral History Performance, a Process that Bonds Actors and Audience
Harriet Lynn, Producer/Artistic Director of Heritage Theatre Artists’ Consortium and artistic director of The Carmel Foundation Players – first production an original oral history performance “Carmel Life Stories.”
What is oral history performance? I developed a methodology to facilitate a creative process of weaving people’s personal stories with their unique talents into a performance work that illuminates their memorable moments. The results of the process are both satisfying and bonding to the members of the troupe as well as to their audiences.
Cast members (at bow) ” Recollections: Life Through Art” – Baltimore Museum of Art.
This fall will see the debut of The Carmel Foundation Players, a new senior theatre company at The Carmel Foundation. Carmel Life Stories, an original oral history performance, is the first production by this 55-plus theatre group consisting of members of The Carmel Foundation. This unique senior theatre performance program is being developed just in time for the upcoming Carmel Centennial Celebration, a year-long series of events starting in January 2016. Participants will also have the opportunity to perform at various venues during this 100th anniversary year.
At present I am seeking eight-to-ten Carmel Foundation members (or those willing to join the Foundation in order to participate) in a twice-weekly program beginning October 29 through November 24 on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. in Blanchard A. Dress rehearsal is on Tuesday, December 1, at 2:30 p.m., with the premiere at The Carmel Foundation on December 3 at 2:00 p.m. Realizing today’s seniors are very active, participants are requested to commit to attending at least six of the eight workshop sessions. I am flexible in my approach and will try to work out scheduling with those individuals who truly want to be involved.
Deepening a Sense of Community and Connection
One of the most salient features of an oral history performance, I believe, is the after-performance discussion with audience members. Telling intimate stories that can range from poignant to funny may trigger audience members’ own memories, too. Often members of the audience wish to share their stories sparked by the presentation, thus making the program more inclusive. Each performance with its individual “talk-back” differs due to the emotions and memories evoked. A sense of community and connection is deepened and a bond between the on-stage storytellers and the audience is struck. Where you come from or what your background is does not matter. There is nothing like an authentic story told by the person who lived it. It is real and visceral.
Stories from the Struggle for Civil Rights – performed at the Jewish Museum of MD (formerly entitled: For All the World to Hear: Stories from the Struggle for Civil Rights)
We are now seeking individuals to join the Players who have Carmel-related stories. No previous acting experience is necessary. Whether you are a long time resident, have lived in Carmel in the past, or are a newcomer to the area, you are invited to participate.
For those interested in learning more about The Carmel Foundation Players and the Carmel Life Stories project contact facilitator/director Harriet Lynn at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 443/630-5312. Registration for the program is at the Carmel Foundation reception desk. Registration may be done in person or by phone at 831/624-1588. The Carmel Foundation is located at SE Eighth and Lincoln in Carmel. (P.O. Box 1050 – Carmel, CA 93921) The fee for the 8-week production workshop is $128 per person. Checks are made out to the Heritage Theatre Artists’ Consortium.
A Rich Background in Professional Theatre
I am the founder/producer/artistic director of Heritage Theatre Artists’ Consortium (H-TAC), a museum theatre consulting company begun in 1994 and until fairly recently was located on the East Coast. But I have been coming to the Carmel – Monterey Peninsula area since 1975. I actually met a lovely Carmel resident then whom I called “Lex, the Barber.” I have yet to meet anyone local who knows of whom I am talking about. Lex was also quite the storyteller. Perhaps his stories and my own early Carmel memories stirred my subconscious to seize this opportunity of others sharing their memories during the 100th anniversary of Carmel. I was fortunate to move here this May with my husband, Dr. Ivan Kramer, a retired physicist from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. He too has become active in his own pursuits and also is inspired by the Monterey County community with so many intriguing people living here. We have taken residence in the Pebble Beach area, a stone’s throw (to make a pun) from Carmel.
Cast of East Side West Side Life Stories – (back row – standing) Program Coordinator of Baltimore City Recreation & Parks- Senior Division – Jo Ann Cason Performance at the Historic Sykesville Colored School House, Sykesville, MD.
Over the years I have offered professional museum theatre programs, living history, oral history performances, docent training, senior theatre, arts educational programs and services for such institutions as the Baltimore Museum of Art, Jewish Museum of Maryland, Maryland Historical Society, Maryland Science Center, Port Discover Children’s Museum, UMBC’s Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture, Peabody Conservatory, Johns Hopkins University, Odyssey Program at JHU, the Howard County Arts Council and numerous other institutions.
Earning my B.F.A. in Dance and Theatre from The Boston Conservatory and a M.S. in Administration from the University of Maryland University College, I have continued to pursue my path in the arts. Being involved in arts education throughout my long career and serving as the executive producer/artistic director of an award-winning non-profit children’s theatre; Pumpkin Theatre, has kept me busy in my life-long pursuit in the creative arts. Working with all ages is a pleasure, but senior theatre is very special and satisfying to me, bringing life experiences, creativity and wisdom center stage for all to enjoy.
I will be sharing my successful oral history performance, Recollections: Life through Art that I originally facilitated and directed for the Baltimore Museum of Art, at the upcoming Western Museum Theatre Conference in San Jose October 23 – 27. My focus is to demonstrate how oral history performance is an excellent venue for inclusion for museums today.
Storytellers – Unite!
For more information about The Carmel Foundation Players, Harriet Lynn, and other programs visit her company’s website: Heritage Theatre Artists’ Consortium website: www.h-tac.com. To learn more about The Carmel Foundation visit: www.carmelfoundation.org.
When you are inspired to create a book out of your oral history project, Park Place Publications can help you with design, editing and publication services.
To learn more, visit Park Place Publications
and for a free consultation with Patricia, call 831/649-6640.