Courtney Surmanek            

Theatre Through Windows

Co-Director, Facilitator

After participating in The Creative Center at University Settlement's incredible Training Institute in Creative Aging, I've been working with elders to co-create documentary theatre. This summer, I was meant to work with elders in Borough Park, Brooklyn, NY. Because of our COVID-19 social distancing guidelines, that work hasn't manifested.

In light of that shift, while quarantining in Blacksburg, VA for the summer, I've been hosting improv workshops with elders through windows with my partner, Steven T. Licardi. We're sharing a combination of improv theatre games and call & response sing-alongs rooted in Appalachian ballads to initiate joy in these times of profound social isolation. I'm a theatre-maker, clown, and Theatre of the Oppressed practitioner; my work with the elders emerges from these practices. Steven is a social worker, spoken word poet, and performance activist.

Sessions can be held 1:1 or with 10-15 elders per session if properly socially distanced in a common area (for example, a suitable dining hall) or outside. We’ve received generous, joyful feedback from the elders and the healthcare workers that have participaed alongside them. Would you like to bring this work to your healthcare center? Please reach out at hello [at] courtneysurmanek [dot] com.