History of Senior Barn Players
The original group of Senior Barn Players consisted of 18 persons who had been actively involved with a summer theater group known as the Barn Players. At a board meeting in the 1970’s, Mary Ann Van Vooren wondered aloud whether the senior members might start some sort of adjunct to their group. The idea was met with enthusiasm and, in 1978, the Senior Barn Players became a reality.
During the first season the group had 45 performances before a few hundred people. Currently the Senior Barn season usually numbers more than 350 performances before audiences totaling some sixteen thousand. Time has taken its toll and only Mary Wolfe, one of the original members, is still on the Senior Barn Players Roster. Both Mary Ann Van Vooren and Winnie Laas, the other original members, passed away in 2007; but their contributions to the group will not be forgotten. Winnie was an active member into her 90,s and “THE WINNIE AWARD”, an achievement citation for outstanding community service, will live on as her legacy.
Instead of performing in a theater this new group of Senior Barn Players decided to troup its plays, taking them wherever a sponsoring group would provide an audience and a place to perform.
Today, as a completely independent organization, the Senior Barn Players produce several one-act plays each year. These are presented at a “preview” after which bookings are arranged for performances during a season which extends from October through June.
Early in its existence the Senior Barn Players recognized that presenting plays in hospitals and nursing homes was not only difficult for the actors, but usually of no interest to the residents. Thus a group called The Entertainers was established within the Senior Barn Players to provide variety shows for nursing homes, senior’s centers and a host of varied audiences. This group, which features singers, dancers, comics and instrumentalists, has been a success from its very first performance.
The Senior Barn Players also offered The Puppet Shows, with one show geared toward 2 and 3 year olds and a second targeted to children in the 4 to 6 age group. The original program, called The Children’s Hour, presented fairy-tale playlets to children at libraries, day-care centers and school classrooms. Following performances by the senior’s, the children were invited to reenact the skit using the cast props and elements of their costumes.
The Radio Days Show evolved from the “Senior Voices…A Reader’s Theater” that was started in the mid-90’s, with actors reading from classic authors, such as Mark Twain. This talented group revisits the days before TV when radio was king as they recreate the broadcast humor and wit of old-time radio shows.
Two talented ladies joined forces to organize and facilitate The Creative Workshop. A gathering of old and new members meet one Saturday a month to share selections of prose, poetry or drama. The activity is based on the premise that; “Creativity is linked to good health in older brains”. The format is determined by the spirit of the group. Originally, Saturday Play Reading meetings were offered for those who did not wish to appear before an audience or those who preferred to read in small group settings. Leaders would select plays for everyone to perform by reading parts in front of other participants.
Area playwrights are encouraged to submit scripts to the Senior Barn Players. When scripts are accepted, the playwright not only has the opportunity to see his or her original work produced, but is also paid a royalty for each performance.
A valuable addition to the greater Kansas City scene, the Senior Barn Players look forward to continuing growth and to “KEEP ON TROUPING”.