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‘Precious and Endless’ brings senior storytellers and youth performers together onstage

Youth performers and senior “Sage VOICES” storytellers rehearse a new production
Jem Moore
Courtesy of VOICES
Youth performers and senior “Sage VOICES” storytellers rehearse a new production, “Precious and Endless,” at the Thunder River Theatre in Carbondale. The show is the first intergenerational theater project from the local performing arts education nonprofit VOICES.

A new theater production in Carbondale features artists on two distant ends of the age spectrum: Youth performers, all 11 to 14 years old, share the stage with “Sage” storytellers who range from 76 to 97.

They swing dance together, tell stories side-by-side and showcase original music in a production meant to highlight the stories of a senior generation through the performances of a much younger one.

The show, called “Precious and Endless,” is the first-ever intergenerational production from the Roaring Fork Valley arts education nonprofit VOICES.

“Precious and Endless” is a product of the senior-oriented “Sage VOICES Theater Project,” one of several performing arts programs VOICES offers; other programs focus on youth, LGBTQ+ people, women and the Latino community.

Cassidy Willey, the show’s director, said it’s rare to find opportunities that bring different generations together. That’s unfortunate, in her view, because “there's a lot to be gained from both sides in an intergenerational space,” she said in an interview during rehearsals this week.

“I think it's really special that we're highlighting and elevating the stories of our sages, and I also think it's really great that we've allowed the youth to play and create within that space and also offer some of their stories as well,” Willey said. “The sage (ensemble) have really valued the youth contribution in that sense.”

The show explores themes about childhood, growing up, letting go and facing fears throughout life’s defining moments. There are theatrical retellings as well as song-and-dance numbers; the title song, “Precious and Endless,” evolved from a group poem by the ensemble with help from local singer-songwriter Jackson Emmer, Willey said.

Joan Lamont is one of the “Sages” whose stories inspired the “Precious and Endless.” She turns 90 this month, and sees a lot of value in sharing stories from her generation with the youth ensemble.

“Precious means the stories that we old sages have been chatting with these marvelous kids about, those are precious to us, and so different for them,” Lamont said. “And endless is, they're going to go on endlessly and have their own stories, too, so it’s been great fun.”

Willey, the show’s director, agrees.

“They have a lot of fun together — sometimes too much fun,” Willey said. “There's a lot of laughter, a lot of joy. I think they've created some very authentic bonds. … I think the fact that the youth have been so respectful and open to working with the sage and the sage have been so in awe and inspired by the youth, it's been a really neat alchemy.”

The show opens Friday and runs through Sunday at the Thunder River Theatre in Carbondale. Tickets are $25 through Thunder River’s website.

Kaya Williams is the Edlis Neeson Arts and Culture Reporter at Aspen Public Radio, covering the vibrant creative and cultural scene in Aspen and the Roaring Fork Valley. She studied journalism and history at Boston University, where she also worked for WBUR, WGBH, The Boston Globe and her beloved college newspaper, The Daily Free Press. Williams joins the team after a stint at The Aspen Times, where she reported on Snowmass Village, education, mental health, food, the ski industry, arts and culture and other general assignment stories.