Thursday, June 15, 2017

Geezers at Breaktrough Theater.

Geezers written by Tommy Lee Johnston is being presented at Breakthrough Theater (419A W Fairbanks Ave Winter Park, FL 32789), through June 19th. Jack, (Sean Kenp) is a young aspiring author who takes a job a a retirement home that his mother has worked at before she died. He is socially awkward and not great around people. Gina, (Carol Palumbo) conducts an awkward job interview with him. She has her own issues, having had problems drinking in the past. Her primary concern is the person she just had to let go. He was found trying to have an affair with one of the residents. This is strictly taboo and she tries to find out if Jack might have similar interests.

Though socially inept, Jack has a rare talent for listening to people and asking pointed questions that peal away any layers of artifice to get to the heart of any story. He begins interviewing the residents, and each has an amazing story to tell. Emily, (Mary Lee Stallings) sat center stage hugging a kitten blanket and watching TV for most of the show. She never says a word. Alzheimer has taken her memories. A woman visits who was adopted and she researched to find out that Emily was her natural mother. She reads a loving letter written by Emily shortly before giving birth. The young Emily was forced to give up her child since she wasn't married. As her daughter read the letter, tears welled up in Emily's eyes and she mouthed the closing sentence. Memories had flooded back, but she was still trapped from expressing her love.

Each resident shared their story with Jack in turn. Kate, (Vicki Wicks) who gave off the appearance of being a confident sensual actress was actually insecure. Neil, (Gary Norris) was abrasive and cocky, but his story was about being a Vietnam vet who was welcome home to America as a baby killer and how much he missed his wife. Ray, (Larry Stallings) slept through most of the play holding a yellow pillow to his chest. His story was the most unsettling as he related his wife's battle with cancer.

The play was fascinating to me since I am sitting in and sketching so many oral histories surrounding the Pulse Nightclub shooting. I am working with incredibly talented interviewers who open themselves to allow the stories to unfold naturally. 49 stories remain untold, but family and friends share memories that prove that love is an amazing and universal force. Art is strongest when it expresses empathy. This play shares that empathy in spades.

Tickets are $20.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

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