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Target Theatre's newest play:
“Can You Hear the Birds?” by Kat Taddei, explores hearing loss, what it means to the person who has a hearing loss, how we can understand what that loss means, and how we can support that person.

Target News

News Articles

On February 23, 2012, Target returned to the Comfort Inn to perform I’m Still Here as part of a workshop for caregivers offered bi-annually by the Victoria Hospice Society. This was an especially appreciative audience, as evidenced by their enthusiastic standing ovation!

Target delighted a capacity audience at Cordova Bay 55 Plus on February 14, 2012, with its performance of Dot Con, a light-hearted lesson on staying safe in cyberspace. It was our second appearance before this lively and popular seniors activity program. For upcoming programs, see their newsletter at cordovabay55plus.org.

The Play’s The Thing
from Senior Living (www.seniorlivingmag.com) February 2012
By Anny Scoones

Victoria’s modest but highly professional Target Theatre is performing a play that offers the gift of understanding and insight into the world of dementia sufferers, their families and caregivers. The central theme of I’m Still Here: each person has value, and that value remains strong when society looks beyond the disease of dementia and focuses on the person.

The play asks audiences to consider what gives people value. It clarifies the importance of living in the moment, to value and enjoy thoughts and feelings of joy and humour and comfort that most people forget to experience day to day – like the smell of the sea, or the glow of the sunset, or watching the activities of a busy garden bird. Everyone can share in these little experiences, not only the person with dementia, but their families and caregivers as well.

Although Target Theatre is small, it speaks volumes, and it is comprised entirely of senior actors – more than a few are in their eighties. There are about 14 regular actors (over age 55), plus an artistic director and a volunteer seven-member board.

The company, performing in the region for well over 25 years, continually brings seniors’ issues to light with their highly polished productions. They have written and performed more than 22 plays dealing with a wide variety of seniors’ issues including, death and dying, romance, sexuality, loneliness, elder abuse, injury prevention, osteoporosis and residential care. The repertoire also explores seniors and driving in a comical musical titled Age on Wheels.

Comedy is an important component of Target’s productions. The company doesn’t portray doom and gloom, but rather their messages are full of hope, optimism and joy. Currently being researched, written and workshopped is a play about isolation, and a piece titled No Big Deal, a play that explores prostate cancer.

The company uses very little in the way of sets, costumes and props (although feather boas and egg timers have been used). Target’s plays are all about language, words, researched subject matter, and the truths that face seniors. This approach makes the productions even more valuable as a vehicle for a better understanding of important seniors’ issues. Judith McDowell, one of the company’s directors, says the productions “are not Spiderman” and “are not works of fiction.”

Read more of this article here…www.seniorlivingmag.com/targettheatre

Target Theatre Plays it Safe in the World of Dot.Com
(from the Quadra Neighbourhood Association Newsletter, May, 2010)
The current arts funding crisis, which resulted in the cancelation of Direct Access (Bingo) grants to all arts groups that serve adults in 2010, has hit Target Theatre hard. Now in it’s 24th year of successful community theatre specifically about seniors, Target will soon go on its summer hiatus with no guarantee of future funding to support special projects or new play development, Nevertheless, the group’s spirit of survival is strong. And there is good news, too. By virtue of some creative financing, Target recently commissioned a new play by a local author, Esme Gosling of Pender Island. In April, 2010, the new play, titled Dot Con, had its premiere before an appreciative audience of residents at Berwick Lodge. As the title suggests, Dot Con looks at the bewildering and sometimes dangerous world of computer scams through the experience of a too-trusting elderly lady who goes looking for love online. The play is a typical Target blend of humour and “words to the wise,” and though it all works out in the end, Dora and her friends get a chance to see why it pays to be extra careful when “spam” comes to call. Performances of this new play will help satisfy a growing demand for entertaining ways of helping seniors stay safe at home, in much the same way that Target’s recent hit, Age on Wheels, helps them stay safe when driving. For more information about Target Theatre and to book a performance for your group, see the newly updated web site at targettheatre.ca. Or email: target@islandnet.com.

Happy 24th, Target Theatre
This year—2010—marks the 24th anniversary of a unique, homegrown community theatre group that caters exclusively to the needs and concerns of seniors and those who serve them. Started in 1986 as an experiment by a small group of over-55 performers with a mission to improve the lives of seniors and increase community awareness of seniors’ issues, Target continues to flourish despite the usual challenges faced by non-profit societies. Last year was one of the busiest in Target’s history with 14 performances of the popular Alzheimers play, I’m Still Here, and the development of a new play about seniors and driving safety called Age on Wheels. Age on Wheels, with six recent performances and several more on the calendar, promises to be another “hit” feature of Target’s repertoire. Other successful plays have included Wot No Soap, about living through WWII, I’m Herbert, about keeping memories fresh into your 80s, and Nobody Wants My Old Organs, about the ultimate act of recycling.

Target generates most of its own material through improvisation, play development workshops, and contributions by players who enjoy the challenge of script writing. Occasionally, if the material fits the group’s mandate to “teach through entertainment,“ Target uses material by other writers. I’m Still Here and I’m Herbert fall into that category. In the case of I’m Still Here, Target has exclusive rights to perform the play on Vancouver Island. As a result, Target has toured the play as far north as Qualicum Beach, performing for family and institutional caregivers, volunteers, Hospice workers, and nurses in training, On the lighter side, Target’s new play Age on Wheels has entertained delighted audiences at seniors’ residences and seniors’ activity centres throughout the Capital Region.

Ups and downs have been feature of Target’s history, depending on circumstances such as funding—mostly from small grants and donations—and the health and energy of its members. There have been a number of losses over the past 24 years, all keenly felt by a tight-knit and dedicated group that spends at least three to six hours together every week studying, rehearsing and developing new ideas. Nevertheless, the spirit behind Target’s initial idea remains strong—using theatre to provide a voice for the concerns of seniors.

Target Theatre–A Company with an Aim
(From the Langham Court Theatre Newsletter, October, 2009)
By Corinna Gilliland
Target Theatre takes aim at issues of concern to the older population. The Company creates and performs in plays around topics such as Senior Drivers, Alzheimer’s, Elder Abuse, Loss of Mobility and Diminishing Independence. Stated baldly, these topics may sound depressing. However, in the hands of Target, the finished product will move audiences but will in no way depress them.

The actors perform plays that, as Judith points out, “put a dramatic frame around real life to allow a particular aspect to be revealed.” Although some of the plays are serious, there is always room for humour, even if it is of the wry kind. As Artistic Director Judith McDowell commented recently, “Humour in a play helps to get the message across and to get through to an audience.” Formed in 1986, participation in Target Theatre is restricted to those 60 and older, dedicated to the ideals of the troupe, and prepared to work long and hard. There is a minimum commitment of three hours a week plus performances over ten months of the year. Troupe members have varying degrees of theatrical experience and some are also members of the Victoria Theatre Guild—Alan Venn (Midsummer Night’s Dream), Target President, Jane Krieger (Cemetery Club), and Madeleine Mills. According to Judith, “lack of experience is no bar to participation because Target also offers training to newcomers.”

The Langham Court-Target Theatre connection is also evident in that Target members use the theatre rehearsal room every Wednesday morning for their meetings. Judith pointed out that, “the relationship between the two groups is really good, the Target people are made to feel welcome whenever they come to Langham Court.” Judith’s first brush with Target Theatre was twenty years ago when she did some freelance work for them. Her present involvement goes back two years. At that time, the company was going through a period of reorganisation, and their previous Artistic Director, Heldor Schaeffer had left. It was then the troupe asked Judith to come and help. Although she is in fact Artistic Director, Judith sees herself more as a facilitator working in the background. She made it very clear that the focus is always Target Theatre, its mission, and its players.

The Company seldom appears before the general public, performing instead for specialised audiences such as seniors’ groups or health-care workers. They tend to acquire their audiences through word of mouth. At present, however, they are attempting to create connections with schools and youth groups with the idea of reaching younger people. They feel that their plays can help teens gain insight into some of the difficulties faced by older parents and grandparents. While their plays do not always provide answers to the problems raised, they do lend impetus to discussions that occur after performances. If the play speaks to their own experience, members of the audience will often contribute extremely acute and insightful observations.

Although most of the plays are created in-house, the troupe does perform licensed work such as I’m Still Here, a script developed in Toronto and work-shopped in Victoria. The most successful in the Target Theatre repertoire, I’m Still Here is one of the plays chosen for the October 15th fundraiser at Langham Court Theatre which also includes I’m Herbert an extremely funny look at the “lighter side of memory loss.”

Target Theatre Society Bulletin – May 2009
Target Theatre Society Bulletin – May 2009 pdf
Welcome to the first edition of the Victoria Target Theatre Society Bulletin. This bulletin is meant to provide Target members with updates and information on the work of the organization and provide a method of staying in touch. It will be published online three times a year: May, October and January. Please send any feedback or information to be included in future editions to Target’s Business Manager, Lucy Bashford – contact information above.

Age on Wheels – Target’s NEWEST Play!!
Target endeavors to develop one new play every one to two years, and for their 2008-09 project, the Target actors and artistic director have chosen the subject of older drivers, their physical and emotional challenges and options for staying safe while preserving mobility (independence) and quality of life. Interest in this area is growing, as statistically older drivers in BC are the second largest demographic (after 16 to -25-year-olds) involved in collisions, and because access to the automobile represents a major aide to independence in the lives of seniors. The play building and production process involves intensive group research into community issues and artistic collaboration with professional director/writers and seniors in the community.
Age on Wheels deals with issues facing older drivers from the perspective of older drivers themselves. The play advocates for the interests of older drivers (mobility, independence, and understanding), explores myths and facts about senior drivers, and at the same time raises questions about their physical and emotional capacities that could affect their driving ability. It moves from a look at the role of cars as a means of independence and freedom in youth and the impact of driving on quality of life for seniors, through acknowledgement of physical and emotional changes in later life and concerns about these changes among friends and family, to presentation of safe driving tips and alternatives to driving. Using song and dance and dramatic scenes, the play mixes humour, drama, and practical guidance in ways that are informative, entertaining, and emotionally engaging.
The play’s production and presentation in the community will involve seniors themselves, theatre professionals, social work professionals who work with seniors, family members, and policy makers, all of whom have an interest in understanding the role of driving in seniors’ lives and the need to improve road safety. These audiences, some of whom may not be familiar with theatre practice, will gain a new appreciation of the ability of applied theatre to move the appreciation of a social policy issue to a new level.

Age on Wheels – Public Performance
Wednesday, June 10, 2009 2-4 pm James Bay New Horizons,
Menzies St
A Change of Place
As of November last year, the Target Theatre Players group has moved its Wednesday morning class from the Church of Truth to the Langham Court Theatre’s comfortable and acoustically excellent rehearsal room. Thanks to the Church of Truth and Rental’s Chair, Patricia Hewitt, for their hospitality during the previous past year. Thanks also to Langham’s board and Theatre Manager Craig Mracek for making the new space available. Submitted by: Judith McDowell, Artistic Director Target Theatre.

Kenneth Urquhart’s new book is published!!
The Fourth Wall, by Kenneth Urquhart, is a book of short stories and a novella. Those who have read, and enjoyed, the stories vary in age from young to senior adults. These engrossing tales are not constrained by similar topics or patterns, as each one is unique in characters and in plot development, often with unexpected repercussions. Photographs provided or adapted by Ken add to the absorption into the tales. A banquet to savour.

The book is available at the University of Victoria Student Book Store. Further information about The Fourth Wall can be found at www.oak-blaze-publishing.com and the author can be contacted at oakblaze@oak-blaze-publishing.com. Submitted by: Maja Svensson

Member Profile – June Boston

June Boston

At 80 years of age, June Boston is the longest serving Target Player – but not the oldest! June has been a Target Player for 22 years, since its inception in 1986. Originally from London, UK, she lived in Quebec and Ontario before moving to Victoria.

June acted with the Lakeland Players Community Theatre, in Westport Ontario with whom she won Best Actress and Best use of Voice at the Eastern Ontario Drama Festival in 1982. In 1985, June joined Sylvia Gambles’ `Hamming It Up` an improvisational group for seniors in Victoria. This group evolved into Target Theatre, which won the gold medal for drama at the Senior Games held in Trail, B.C. that year.

June says, “Target has been my life for so long. My husband supported me and Target whole heartedly. Before we had a computer, he endlessly typed scripts for us.” On Target’s 20th Anniversary the Players presented June and the late Rosalie Frampton with an award for 20 years of Acting Excellence. June also taught drama and directed plays in the community. As a member of the Union of B.C. Performers, June still works in the movie business. “Movie making is fun and financially profitable” she says, “although time consuming. One meets interesting people.” Meeting a gracious Sissy Spacek is a favourite movie moment for June. June i”I ams determined to keep going as long as possible,” June says, “- and for as long as Target is willing to puts up with hermy growing infirmities!”. Submitted by Madeleine Mills, Player’s’ Representative.

The initial Victoria Target Theatre Society performance of “I’m Still Here” was November 2, 2007. Since then the Society players have performed this wonderful drama that explores the experience of living with dementia 18 times. I have had the opportunity to watch five of those performances. As a Registered Nurse who works with people with dementia and their families I have found the play realistic, funny, heart warming and profound.

As a dementia care educator I have watched as audiences smile, laugh, cry and frequently nod their heads in agreement as they are absorbed in the stories woven throughout the play. The play challenges long held beliefs about dementia and dementia care and forces audiences to reflect on how they think about people with dementia and how they may ‘treat’ them.

I applaud Victoria Target Theatre for their work in ensuring the messages in “I’m Still Here” are being heard throughout the province of British Columbia and I believe the accomplished players make the words of the people with dementia literally “‘come alive.”’.
Submitted by: Janice Robinson, Communications Committee Chair.

January, 2009

Theatre’s new play “Age on Wheels” continues to roll along. We are pleased to announce that in addition to support in principle from the BCAA Traffic Safety Foundation, $25,000 in grants have been received, including a $3000 CRD grant for research and writing in collaboration with a community threatre professional; $12,000 from the BC Arts Council for mounting, pilot presentation, and preliminary dissemination in collaboration with local theatre professionals, the BCAA Traffic Safety Foundation, and community host groups; and a $10,000 grant from the Victoria Foundation for further mounting, pilot presentations and revisions in collaboration with the local community.

Target gratefully acknowledges the Province of British Columbia through the Direct Access Grant Program.

In the development of their mature driver project, Target acknowledges the support of the BC Arts Council, the Victoria Foundation, and the CRD through the participating municipalities of Saanich, Victoria, Oak Bay, Esquimalt, View Royal, Highlands and Metchosin.

2009 Funding Partners

“Age on Wheels” deals with issues facing older drivers from the perspective of older drivers themselves. The play advocates for the interests of older drivers (mobility, independence, and understanding), explores
myths and facts about senior drivers, and at the same time raises questions about the physical and emotional capacities that could affect their driving ability. Interest in this area is growing, as statistically older drivers in British Columbia are the second largest demographic (after 16-25-year-olds) involved in collisions, and
because access to the automobile represents a major aide to independence in the lives of seniors.

Newletter 2006 (pdf)

Newletter 2005 (pdf)

Newletter 2004 (pdf)