Arts and Entertainment

ElderHealth participants put on play for YouTube

The 24-member
The 24-member 'Friday group' at the Marysville ElderHealth Northwest adult day health center presented the YouTube video of their 'Tropical Animals' play June 12.
— image credit: Photo courtesy of Richard Porter

MARYSVILLE — With ElderHealth Northwest facing statewide reductions in its services, including at its adult day health center in Marysville, Richard Porter had hoped to give the program's local participants a bit of a break from bad news.

Porter is an AmeriCorps volunteer coordinator for the Marysville ElderHealth Northwest adult day health center, and on June 12, his "Friday group" of developmentally disabled clients was able to enjoy the fruits of their labors, when the clients and their relatives watched the play that they'd spent the preceding two months of Fridays recording.

Porter explained that writing on the 24-member group's "Tropical Animals" play began three months ago, but the play hit a snag when Porter realized that his performers were too prone to stage fright, and forgetting their lines, to do the show live. So, they decided to record multiple takes of each scene onto video, which Porter then assembled, using standard movie-editing software on his office computer, into a 13-minute video that's been posted on YouTube.

"The plot of the play is kind of crazy," Porter said. "Tropical animal babies are stolen by this gang called Team Joker, and the animal babies' parents have to get them back, so they hire a detective. I think there were some pirates, too," he laughed.

Porter estimated that a total of 50 attendees, including both program participants and their families and friends, turned out to watch the debut of the play on video.

"It's funny, but in a way, the best part of the movie was the opening title sequence, where the performers could see themselves, in costume as their characters," Porter said. "They applauded and cheered when they saw their names. It lets these people's loved ones see that they're not just sitting around here. We have them doing active, hands-on stuff."

Porter had never made a movie before, and he enjoyed the experience.

"With the cutbacks, there's been some tension around here lately, especially since some of our clients won't be able to come here anymore," Porter said. "This was a bit of a relief from all that."

Although the YouTube video of the "Tropical Animals" play is currently marked as "private," Porter hopes to make it publicly accessible, once he receives clearance.

The ElderHealth Northwest adult day health center in Marysville is located at 4312 84th St. NE, in St. Philip's Episcopal Church.

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