Since the Summer of 2007, the Hickory Community Theatre (HCT) has been providing a unique creative opportunity and peer-driven entertainment for seniors, ages 55 and over, in the greater Hickory Metro area. In 2010, the program was renamed as the Encore Players and a touring component was added, sending the Players to senior residential facilities to perform for audience there who cannot get to the Theatre.
The Players come from all walks of life and with varying degrees of theatrical experience. All productions are performed as “staged readings”, meaning that the actors carry scripts but perform with sets and costumes. This format allows all senior actors participating in the program to feel comfortable regardless of their individual ability to memorize.
Creative outlets for seniors are vitally important to their continued quality of life. Research has documented the therapeutic value of arts participation. In fact, one study shows that out of all the arts, theatre is one of the most beneficial for seniors. For seniors, theatre has many health benefits—physical, mental, psychological and cultural. But the major one is social. In fact, social factor is so important that many participants site it as the aspect they most enjoy. Taking part in a production provides a new way of building, renewing and supporting friendships.
For senior audiences, watching a peer-cast production reminds them of their own vitality. The also share common experiences to which they can relate. As people live longer, they’re often looking for ways to add quality to their lives. Creativity and the arts are where quality of life comes from.