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Embracing the Spotlight: Unveiling the Golden Autumn Players

Discover the enriching world of the Golden Autumn Players (GAP), a cherished ensemble within the Wilkes Playmakers community. In a candid interview with Janina, the illustrious flagstaff of GAP, we delve into the significance of this unique group and their approach to theater.

Performance of My Mountain Duchess. Seated left to right: Johnny Barnette, Steve Critz, Steve Craig, Trudy Craig, Jeff Smith, Cyndee Smith, Deborah Britton, Janina Shoemaker

The Birth of Golden Autumn Players

Inaugurated in 2022 by a dynamic assembly of "retired" actors, GAP emerged as a haven for individuals still brimming with the passion for performance but faced with physical constraints. A myriad of challenges, such as arthritis and other senior ailments, limited their ability to partake in full-fledged productions, including issues like driving after dark and memory concerns.

The Essence of Readers Theatre

At the heart of GAP's artistic expression lies readers theatre, a distinctive form that retains scripts on stage while emphasizing character portrayal through rehearsed expressions. This liberating approach helps alleviate the stress of line memorization. Readers theatre can still have costumes, props, scenery, lights, and sound, but many performances have varying degrees of complexity. Audiences are invited to actively engage in the imaginative interpretation of a play, akin to the experience of reading a compelling book.

Bridging Communities

GAP as Rose Glen Manor, a Senior Living Community. Left to right: Bill Hurd, Margo Hurd, Janina Shoemaker, Cyndee Smith, Jeff Smith, Anne Hannibal

Initially performing in venues like adult daycare centers, senior church groups, and assisted living facilities, GAP has been instrumental in bringing the magic of theater to senior citizens who might otherwise miss out on such experiences. The outreach extends beyond traditional settings, now gracing the Blackbox theatre at Benton Hall Community Arts Center, welcoming audiences of all ages.

The Diverse Tapestry of GAP

Marketing for Those Crazy Ladies in the House on the Corner, Left to Right: Deborah Britton, Trudy Craig, Kathy Kolbow, Cyndee Smith

GAP is a tapestry woven with fascinating individuals, each contributing a unique thread to the group. Janina, with a Bachelor's in Fine Arts and a Master's in Theatre Arts, boasts over 60 years of theater experience, with a significant focus on readers theatre. Complementing her expertise, GAP includes a retired English teacher, a veteran, a founding Playmaker, a skilled piano player, and other remarkable talents. Their wealth of experience and wisdom remains a reservoir for sharing and expression.

Unveiling Past Performances

GAP's repertoire spans a diverse range of productions; including Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein, Three on a Bench, Shaw’s Pygmalion, The Fisherman’s Wife, Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, The Dearly Departed, Irving’s Legend of Sleepy Hollow, and many more. The group has masterfully adapted various stories for performance, showcasing their versatility and commitment to delivering compelling narratives.

Join the Golden Autumn Players

As GAP continues to captivate audiences with their dynamic performances, the group extends an open invitation for new members. Initially conceived as a senior group, GAP now welcomes adults of all ages, fostering a vibrant and inclusive community dedicated to the enduring art of readers theatre. Join the Golden Autumn Players, where the spotlight shines on every chapter of life.

Learn more about their upcoming performances!

Embracing the idea of shared wisdom, comment one thing you have learned from theatre, either as a performer, tech, or audience member!

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I learned how to have an open mind. Theatre is a safe haven for many people. I have gotten to know so many people from different backgrounds. Keeping an open mind is key to making and keeping connections.


Feb 18

I have learned so many things from theatre! I would say confidence is an important one. Theatre has helped me grow into the person I am with the confidence to stand for what I believe.

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