The New York Times reported on a popular program at the Culver City (California) Senior Center. Mathew Hoffman, a former theater student at the Barklee College of Music, volunteers as an acting coach for the center. The activity turned into a class known as “Tuesdays with Mathew,” and currently has participants in their 70s, 80s, and 90s.
The weekly hourlong class has become a core feature at the senior center. Mathew directs participants in performing scenes from classic films like Casablanca, Brokeback Mountain, The Wizard of Oz, and others. He provides scripts for the scenes, and even wigs and costumes. Sometimes the performances are videotaped and posted on YouTube to raise money for Meals on Wheels. Mathew has traveled to a variety of senior centers in California, finding sponsors along the way, and some years raising over $5,000 for Meals on Wheels.
What binds Mathew to his older participants is the authenticity their lives embody. He says they live their lives without any second thought to outside judgement. In turn, the actors often use the word “transformed” to describe the effect this class has had on their lives. They claim they feel decades younger, and Mathew believes this is helping keep loneliness away.
In many times of his own need, his actors have surrounded him with courage and inspiration. This support may have revamped Mathew’s own confidence, who after decades of limited success, landed a narrator gig for CBS and ABC. However, Mathew never strays too far from his makeshift Hollywood actors and he promises to remain a volunteer at the Culver City Senior Center no matter how busy he becomes with actual Hollywood.
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Barnes B. Lights. Camera. Senior center? The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/22/style/senior-center.html?searchResultPosition=15. December 22, 2019. Accessed February 10, 2020.