To know me is to know I love an audience, and as Nancy and I drive the short distance to Farmington to perform at Trinity Care Center, I speculate on the audience and the attendance.
"It's a big place and when we delivered the posters a couple weeks ago, it looked like a really nice place too."
"They'll probably have a big area so people in wheel chairs can park easily, " Nancy adds.
Susan, the activities director, said most of the audience members will be in the 80's and some in the 90's. I told her I would bring my small sound system so I could adjust volume as necessary. When we've done that at other senior care centers, they've really appreciated being able to hear the show clearly."
"And some of the seniors have stopped by after shows to tell us that they appreciate the sound system," Nancy says.
Nancy and I set up in the inside garden area where the units are constructed to look like cabins that open onto a spacious garden with a waterfall and plants.
As people come in I have a chance to talk to them and find out where they are from, and they thank us for coming (even before they've seen the show) and talk about their experiences growing up on a farm.
As I turn the page to begin the show, the audience numbers about 25.
The enthusiasm they've expressed before the show helps inspire me to do my best and throw in a few stories that make the program run 45 minutes long.
Their expressions are often limited by
oxygen tubes or by how much they can move in the wheel chair, but as I see them smile and nod their heads, I know they are enjoying the show.
I know the "golden years" may not appear to be so great sometimes, but we must never forget that the people living those years are golden, for they are precious to us.
After I end the show they applaud warmly several times and stay around to tell me their stories.
Several people buy books and talk to Nancy and me as I sign them.
My job as a performer is to make people laugh, smile, cry, and, in general, respond with feeling, and whenever I feel an audience responding, I become more emotionally involved in my stories. Audience and performer build on the responses of each other.
At this performance of A Farm Country Christmas Eve, a story which holds many dear memories for me, the audience gave back every thing I gave them and more.