By Diane Y. Welch
If laughter is the best medicine then Del Mar residents Mary Ann and Bud Emerson must surely be doctors of mirth. Through their involvement with a senior acting group known as The Script in Hand Players, they bring side-splitting merriment to other seniors.
Their performances are not only fun for the couple but uplifting for them, too, said Mary Ann Emerson. “It may sound corny but nothing gives me more pleasure than seeing older people, sometimes in wheelchairs and unable to get out, with big smiles on their faces appreciating what we are bringing to them. It doesn’t get any better than that.”
The retired husband and wife team joined the 14-member theater group seven years ago. And since then they have brought laughter through their humorous skits to hundreds of seniors countywide who can’t get out to the theater.
The troupe visits about two to four senior centers almost every month, each time choosing about 10 skits from their extensive library. Material comes from different sources. “Just recently someone was sent a funny story via email and we were able to expand it into a skit,” said Bud Emerson. Some skits are written by members who are talented scriptwriters, and some are scenes from Broadway plays. A mailer goes out twice a year to numerous senior center activity directors. As a result, the troupe gets a lot of repeat business and has amassed enough material so they don’t have to restage the same programs. Rehearsals take place every Monday at Wesley Palms Senior Center in Pacific Beach. One of the troupe members — the oldest member at 94 — lives there. Some members have acting credentials and although the scripts are read, the programs are animated, well rehearsed and costumed for dramatic effect.
Launched almost 20 years ago by six founders, the troupe performs at community centers, retirement homes, birthday parties, private homes, mobile home parks, clubs, and places of worship. In some of the assisted living facilities where they perform there is a high level of loneliness and isolation. “And what we do mainly is make them laugh and forget about their situation for a while,” said Mary Ann, who said that one of her favorite characters is a real estate agent desperately trying to sell a haunted house.
The 14 members are a tight-knit group and are friends dedicated to their mission of bringing entertainment to seniors. New members have to audition to join the group as openings become available. They have a proven belief that humor and insight can be found in human behavior and they love to laugh.
“We just gas it up,” said Bud Emerson. And even though they have done skits repeatedly they try using different actors and different accents to keep it fun for themselves.
Especially satisfying for the Emersons is the opportunity to enjoy this endeavor at this point in their lives during their retirement.
They rehearse at home and offer each other honest critique.
“It is wonderful to be able to be doing something together that is both worthwhile and so much fun,” said Mary Ann.
To find out more about Script in Hand Players or to schedule a performance, call Betty Pearlman at 858-566-2959.