THE BLOG
11/26/2014 08:08 pm ET Updated Jan 26, 2015

Janet's Class

If you are of a certain age, retired, without an office and somewhat bored. I have an idea for you. Join an acting group, class, whatever you want to call it. What you need is an experienced leader to guide you and a dozen or so pleasant people who will commit to the venture.

My group we call Janet's Class, although she sometimes grandly refers to it as The Limelight Players. Janet is Janet Sarno, who performed brilliantly in my play, EVERY DAY A VISITOR. A graduate of the Yale Drama School, Janet's long career has encompassed theater, movies and television. On Broadway she was in EQUUS and three other plays. She has been featured in six movies, including REQUIEM FOR A DREAM and ITALIAN MOVIE. Also many TV dramas serials and off broadway productions.

What makes Janet a great teacher is her energy, her skill, her heart, her caring and the simple fact that she is extremely nice. As is her class, which includes former physicians, teachers, housewives, businessmen and moi.

The class originated at Marymount College, staying together after Marymount eliminated its acting program eleven years ago. Many of our group started at Marymount. I am a newcomer, this being my second year. We are in our 60s, 70s and 80s. At 88, I am the oldest member.

In session, we meet every Tuesday for two hours in the a.m. at a church near Murray Hill. What we do are scenes that Janet has extrapolated from plays well known and obscure. Each of us is assigned a scene with one or two others. Between classes we rehearse at our homes, then present each week at class -- subject to Janet's admonitions and suggestions. We get better and better. Finally, in the evening, we strut our stuff before family and friends. The session ends with a performance at the Lott Residence for the Elderly on upper fifth avenue.

After class, by the way, many of us, including Janet, have lunch together. We are like a family.

No more book clubs for me. Too passive. In our acting class, we memorize our lines, bounce our characters off each other and step boldly on to the stage. It takes time; it takes effort; it takes dedication. This is outside our comfort zone but not so far outside as to create anxiety. So far I have been Captain Queeg and Willy Loman. Who will I be at our next session in January?

When you are old and your responsibilities have diminished, a satisfactory life is by no means assured. You have to seek it out. In fact, that may be true at any age.