Two Old Women
Illustration from Two Old Women by Epicenter Press
Also see the Feb. 9, 2007 Cape Cod Times article: Cape theater project brings kids and elders together
On December 5, Big & Small Puppetworks brought together students from the Lighthouse Charter School and elders from the Orleans Council on Aging Senior Center to discuss Two Old Women, by Velma Wallis. In a collaborative process begun by Big & Small Puppetworks & co-produced by Ruth Shapiro & Karen Dowcett, Artistic Director of Big & Small, the two groups discussed issues surrounding aging, gender and responsibility to the community, themes developed in the legend.
The legend for this project was passed down for generations from mother to daughter. It tells of two old women who, in a time of famine, were deemed to be a burden to their tribe and were left behind to die. They had to decide whether to accept their fate or "die trying" to reverse it. In their struggle for survival, they saved not only themselves but also their tribe. As a result of their demonstrated power and wisdom, a major cultural shift occurred heralding a new appreciation of elders and a rebalancing of the community.
The collaboration will continue through June, including workshops on mask making and movement, and portraiture. In addition, there will be public events creating a cape-wide immersion. These will include "Walk and Talk", a combination of walkathon and book discussion groups at local libraries, and a panel discussion with national leaders on ageism. Panelists will include Kitty Dukakis, Suzanne Braun Levine, and Janice Blanchard.
The culminating activity will be the stage performance of Two Old Women, scheduled for late summer/fall. Pat Carroll and Betsey Palmer have graciously committed their performances as the Two Old Women. They will be joined by the elders from the Senior Center and a multigenerational cast. You can find out more about the project and Big & Small Puppetworks by visiting www.bigandsmallmasktroupe.org.