Two years ago, Educational Theatre Company (ETC) was at the risk of losing much-needed funding from the Arlington Commission, along with most of the arts organizations in the area. Building on our knowledge that the arts are for everyone, ETC reached out to Rita, one of our Creative Age participants, to speak to the Commission about what being a part of theatre has meant to her.
At the time, Rita lived at Culpepper Garden, a low-income senior living facility. ETC is only able to bring classes there when they are funded - by donors like you, private foundations, etc. - but Rita would join every time. She shared stories of her past with the group - stories of baking bread with her mother in the Polish Ghetto before dawn (because they weren't allowed to be doing this); of coming to America with just her sister to join her father and his "new American family," where she and her sister were treated as "other;" and of it was like being a young mother in unhappy marriage.
Rita always blooms at the final sharing - when the stories shared by the participants are turned into scenes and monologues and read by the other participants. You can see the joy on her face in this photo as she helps elevate the voice of a fellow resident by helping tell her story.
Rita is most powerful in her own words, though:
“I moved to Culpepper Garden in 2014, when I was 81 years old – to flee an abusive marriage. I was depressed beyond measure. I had lost my home, my beloved pets, my way of life. I had nothing more to look forward to. It seemed this was the end of the road.
Soon after, Educational Theatre Company came to Culpepper Garden. ETC was, and is, my salvation.
Last month, I was scheduled to move to Maryland to be near my daughter. However, I cancelled. ETC has become such an important part of my life, I just couldn’t leave it behind.
…[Any donation] is a small amount to [you], but it’s worth a million bucks to me and my fellow thespians.”
*Rita has since moved to Maryland during COVID, but we still in contact and hope to grow the Creative Age program to her new facility as soon as it is financially feasible and safe to do so.