Excerpts from "Picture This", developed by The White Pines Senior Theater Inititiative, Spring 2016, Sidewater House
Bright Invention performs at Sidewater House

Bright Invention performs at Sidewater House


At White Pines, we believe the transformational power of creativity is available to everyone, all the time. We are committed to presenting great, high quality shows; to teaching fun and meaningful classes to all ages; and to bringing our creativity into communities everywhere.

It is with that last commitment that we are excited to announce the White Pines Senior Theater Initiative. Before we describe it, allow us to tell a story.

In 1999, two months after his first child was born, Founding Producer Benjamin Lloyd's grandmother died. With few financial resources, she had moved from Missoula, Montana to Boulder, Colorado to be closer to her daughter, Ben's mom. Since the death of her husband Bob in 1996, Jean Dilley had been depressed, and after some difficult conversations, she and her daughter agreed to place her in a senior living center in Boulder. While there, her depression and isolation worsened, and she committed suicide in June of 1999. 

As he thought about the communities he wanted to design programs for, Ben's attention naturally turned to the quality of life for low-income seniors. At White Pines, we like to say: "Art doesn't change lives; art saves lives." And so with the memory of Jean Dilley as our personal motivation, White Pines has set out to bring its ensemble Bright Invention into senior living centers across the Delaware Valley, to perform, to teach, to inspire, to transform.

After all, ageing is natural part of of all of our lives. And even though we may feel young and indestructible, our twilight years are waiting for us. The quality of those years depends on people thinking with creativity and purpose . . . now. 

Federation Housing Partnership

Residents of Sidewater House enjoying Bright Invention

Residents of Sidewater House enjoying Bright Invention

"The Residents of Federation Housing have been so thrilled to have been a part of White Pines' Senior Theater Initiative. They found it to be very interactive and they enjoyed sharing their stories with each other. They would love to have the opportunity to do this again.  White Pines and their staff have been wonderful to work with and look forward to future opportunities to work together."

- Donna Boyer, Director of Community Services, Federation Housing, Inc. 

White Pines Productions, Inc. is partnering with Federation Housing, Inc. to create an in-depth relationship with the residents of Sidewater House, a senior independent living site on Byberry Road in Northeast Philly. Building on a body of research which demonstrates that creativity improves the lives of seniors, our goal is to transform lives at Sidewater House through dramatic arts participation.  Specifically, White Pines will establish a three month theatrical residency there, bracketed by two performances: the first by Bright Invention, the second by the residents under the guidance of Bright Invention. Lead teacher Jerry Perna of Bright Invention will work with residents at Sidewater on creating a fun and invigorating theatrical program for the three month residency. After getting to know the community better, and receive ideas and interests from them, Jerry will offer a once per week workshop for 12 weeks, culminating in an intimate shared evening with the community and invited guests. 

White Pines’ improvisation ensemble, Bright Invention, is ideally suited to the challenges of bringing theater to seniors where they live. Our performances need no sets, lights or props, and are based on suggestions we receive from the audience. We are composed of Philadelphia's finest teaching artists, some of whom already have experience working with seniors. We believe through the improvisational, interactive performance, the 12 week theater workshops, and culminating performance, White Pines will nurture the growth of theatrical creativity and creative community for Sidewater’s elderly participants. 

Next Steps

In 2016, The White Pines Senior Theater Initiative was made possible by The Henrietta Tower Wurts Memorial. We are deeply grateful for their support! 

White Pines is actively seeking funding from individuals, corporations and philanthropies to support an on-going partnership with Federation Housing, which operates eleven sites across greater Philadelphia region. We are also seeking partners who share our concern for the quality of life for low-income seniors to support this work, which costs about $2,000 per residency. 

Are you interested in having White Pines run a residency at a senior living site? Would you like to support us with this work? White Pines Productions is a non-profit 501 (c ) 3, and as such, your tax deductible donation, in any denomination, helps us continue to create this important programming. Gifts can be made in honor of, or in memoriam to, your friend or loved one. Contact Founding Producer Benjamin Lloyd via email by clicking here, or by calling White Pines at 877-674-8338.

White Pines: Dynamic Creativity, Growing Communities, Lasting Relationships