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Osher Lifelong Learning Institute Launches Partnership with Olney Theater Center

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For years, Osher members have taken courses about Shakespeare’s plays, Broadway shows, music and the history of theater. The courses have fostered appreciation of the arts but haven’t focused on how theaters function and operate.

Now, Osher members have a chance to learn about how theaters work behind the scenes. In a new course this spring, members can get an inside look at Olney Theatre Center. Students will examine the administrative and artistic sides of theater through conversations with artists as well as with members of the theater’s leadership team. Students will learn what it takes to operate a theater and what goes into putting together a lineup of performances for a theater’s season.

“We are giving them information about the workings of the theater that they wouldn’t get from being Olney Theater members,” said Ann Wiker, Osher’s administrative supervisor. “This is really the first time we are bringing in people who are performers and people who can educate people about their craft.”

Osher Lifelong Learning Institute is a membership program for retired and semi-retired adults. Osher offers myriad classes at the JHU Montgomery County Campus. The theater course is scheduled to run for six weeks in April and May.

Topics discussed in the theater lecture series will include set design, casting and costume design, with experts in each field expected to present.

To whet members’ appetites for the spring course, in September, dozens of Osher members attended a performance of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. Attendees toured the Olney Theatre campus, watched the comedy and participated in a talk back with the cast.

The National Players group presented the performance and will be involved in the spring course; National Players is the outreach program of Olney Theatre. National Players has performed in 41 states and around the globe, according to the Olney Theatre website.

“I hope [Osher members] develop an appreciation for theater as a form of creative expression,” Wiker said.

Osher members, Wiker said, are the target age group for many local theaters because senior citizens often are theater subscribers. “This course will expose them to more than what they typically see on stage and will increase their appreciation of the art form and inspire creativity within them,” she said.

Many Osher members devoted their careers to the sciences, math and law but hadn’t had an opportunity to explore theater and the arts, Wiker said. She hopes through the Behind the Scenes course, members will delve into an area they hadn’t before.

Osher has similar partnerships with the Johns Hopkins Peabody Institute and the Everyman Theatre for Osher members in the Baltimore and Columbia programs.

CATEGORY: Academics, In The Community