Theater at the Ranch a Lively Addition to RR Activities

Deborah Dorman, President, Director, Producer for Theater at the Ranch

Theater at the Ranch has added a new dimension to the activities offered at Robson Ranch, both attracting new homeowners and providing many benefits for residents. According to the National Institutes of Health,Research on music, theater, dance, creative writing, and other participatory arts shows promise for improving older adults’ quality of life and well-being, from better cognitive function, memory, and self-esteem to reduced stress and increased social interaction.”

And also, “According to the National Institute on Aging, acting is beneficial for seniors by improving cognition and social engagement. Acting helps people express their emotions, does not require previous training, and increases social interactions. It is the perfect way for seniors to be social and get involved in their community, while stimulating their brain in the process.”

But acting, whether in workshops held by the club, or in a production, is only the tip of the iceberg. Many people are engaged backstage, in props, sound, lights, sets, makeup, costumes, public relations, ticket sales, house management, music, and more. It is fairly unique to have a community theater made up of seniors, but not at all unheard of. Participation in a show creates a sense of family and belonging, and stimulates creativity in many ways. It also provides a sense of accomplishment, which can be difficult to achieve in retirement. Being involved in the group can assist new homeowners in becoming socially integrated in their new environment. The activity is non-partisan, caring, and inclusive, and does not require the physical stamina of some other activities (although it may require serious mental stamina!). The group has taken steps to accommodate people with hearing impairment, difficulty memorizing, shyness, and lack of experience.

Aside from the benefits for the participants (there were more than 20 in the first show and closer to 30 in the second), the fact that nearly 600 seats were filled for “Sylvia” in 2023, and over 600 were filled for “Big Guns” in 2024 shows that the community as a whole is eager to enjoy this kind of production. Many of the residents who came to both shows were not regular “theater goers,” but have been pleasantly surprised by the experience. The next show will be a comedy performed from Jan. 30 through Feb. 2, 2025, in the Hermosa Ballroom (title to be announced). Auditions are typically held in early November, and there are breaks in the rehearsal schedule for Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. Rehearsals are two or three times a week for about two hours, increasing to four or five days and more hours by mid-January. A dinner theater night and a matinee will be included in the four performances. The Theater is hoping to also offer online ticketing options.

The goals of Theater at the Ranch are to involve more and more residents, both as participants and audience, in live theater production, while maintaining a high level of artistic quality, as well as expanding educational and fun workshops and trips to shows at other venues. To join the group for receiving information, send your name, email address, and phone number to [email protected].