The Middletown-based theater company ARTFARM and Middlesex Community College will be co-sponsoring a “Symposium on the Arts and Aging” on Friday, November 7 at the Community College. The event, which will run 2:30 – 6:30 pm, is free and open to the public.
The keynote speaker at the Symposium is Dr. Bernie Siegel, author of the best-selling book “Love, Medicine and Miracles”. His talk is entitled “Grow Young With Me.” Bernie is globally influential on the use of painting and visualization in the treatment of cancer patients. In 2011 he was honored by the Watkins Review of London as one of the top twenty Spiritually Influential Living People on the Planet. Bernie is an iconoclast who will be certain to challenge the assumptions of everyone in the room about how the arts can play a role in the lives of aging people and their caregivers.
Dr. Bernie Siegel
The afternoon will continue with a session of workshops, followed by a Panel Discussion with artists and scientists on the effects of aging on artists and the benefits of the arts to the aging.
Workshops will include “Memoir Writing” with writer and teacher Sari Rosenblatt, and “Sharpening the Aging Brain” with actor, storyteller and teacher John Basinger. Symposium participants will have the choice of attending one of the two workshops.
Sari currently teaches fiction writing at the Educational Center for the Arts in New Haven, CT. Her work has been published in many literary journals and received many prestigious fiction prizes. She has taught at the University of Iowa, Green Street Arts Center, as well as memoir writing at the Continuing Studies Program at Wesleyan.
John, who is eighty years old, played the title role in ARTFARM’s production of King Lear this summer. He is Professor Emeritus of Theater and Sign Language at Three Rivers Community College, has appeared in many films and was a long-time performer with the National Theater of the Deaf. John has memorized and performs Milton’s Paradise Lost in its entirety, and uses physical and mental memorization techniques to keep his aging brain sharp.
The Panel, which will be moderated by Judith Felton, MxCC Professor and Coordinator of the Human Services Program at the College, will bring together artists, scholars and scientists to investigate the Arts and Aging. The audience will be invited to engage in an active dialog with the panelists, and the Symposium will culminate in a wide-ranging community discussion on how aging effects artistic people, how creativity and artistic expression can serve as antidotes to depression, loneliness, memory loss and other challenges of aging, and how the arts can serve as tools for persons working with aging populations.
Panelists include Neely Bruce, composer, pianist and Wesleyan University Music Professor; Donna Fedus, Gerontologist and Coordinator of Elder Programs at The Consultation Center, Yale University School of Medicine; Carolyn Kirsch, actor, director and former Broadway performer; Carlos Hernandez-Chavez, a painter, musician, and Arts and Humanities Policy Development Consultant; and Wendy Black-Nasta, founder of Artists for World Peace
The afternoon will end with light refreshments and an opportunity to network informally with panelists, presenters and other attendees.
ARTFARM is a Middletown-based non-profit which cultivates high-quality theater with a commitment to simple living, environmental sustainability and social justice. Since 2006 ARTFARM has been presenting professional Shakespeare in the Grove on the MxCC campus each summer. The “Symposium on the Arts and Aging” is the culminating event of “The Lear Project”, a series of public talks and events around Aging held in association with this summer’s production of King Lear.
The Symposium will be held in Room 808 in Chapman Hall at Middlesex Community College, 100 Training Hill Road, Middletown. The event is free and open to the public, but participants are asked to pre-register by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. This Symposium is intended for artists, students, caregivers and anyone coping with the challenges of getting older. For more information, write email@example.com, visit www.art-farm.org, or call (860) 346-4390.
Photo below by Bill Dekine shows John Basinger as Lear and Marcella Trowbridge as Cordelia in ARTFARM's July, 2014 production of King Lear.