MOUNDRIDGE — When you look for a traveling theatrical troupe, residents of a retirement community may not immediately spring to mind.
Seven women who live at Pine Village in Moundridge — Shirley Carpenter, Marvis Doering, Doris Flickner, Darlene Goering, Marie Krehbiel, Marjean Stucky and Geneva Wedel — perform reader's theatre.
Led by Director of Wellness Becki Yoder, and sometimes joined by her husband, Evan, the nine make up the Pine Village Players.
"We could not do it without her," Stucky said.
The group is in high demand. Yoder estimates the group has performed more than 70 times in the past four years.
"It just took on a life of its own," Yoder said.
What has not changed is the group's preferred material — comedic scripts that are around 10 minutes long. The group usually performs two or three scripts for a show.
"There's just a variety of storylines in all of them," Yoder said.
In reader's theatre, the actors are seated and have scripts in hand. Though the lines are not memorized, the group has rehearsals to work on characterization and comic timing.
"As they do them, they get into the character and do different facial expressions and gestures," Becki said.
"We have to shape up, because we want to please our director," Krehbiel said. "She stimulates our brains."
Using their voices and facial expressions, the actors convey their stories, letting the audience's imagination fill in the setting.
"You're up there to connect with that audience, since we do all comedies to make them laugh," Yoder said. "Everybody needs to laugh."
Sometimes the women have to play male roles or speak in a foreign accent, as the scripts call for it.
"These guys are good," Yoder said. "As we've done more and more, I expect them to do more things and they do. They do their characters and they ad lib."
Members of the Pine Village Players started with little or no acting experience. Some had acted in their school days, while others were not allowed to act in school.
"It's always fun to act as somebody else," Stucky said.
The group finds each audience has a unique response to their performances.
"You never know what lines they're going to laugh at," Yoder said.
The players learned to hold for laughs and to stay in character.
"The fact that we're up there is kind of funny," Carpenter said.
The actors will fill in for each other if someone is on vacation or in the hospital.
"Around here, there's people who will break a hip and then be out for a while," Carpenter said.
The Pine Village Players perform for audiences that range from a few dozen people to more than 200, taking the stage at charity balls, churches, conventions and conferences.
"We've done all kinds of venues," Yoder said.
The Pine Village Players have traveled as far as Topeka with their performances. They must use one of the facility's vehicles to travel, a task Yoder takes on since several of the members use walkers and wheelchairs to get around.
"She just lets down the ramp and gets us up there and in there and acts like it's no big deal," Krehbiel said.
The actors are always on the lookout for other Pine Village residents who could join the group.
"If we see somebody who we think will respond and take directions, we encourage them to join the group," Krehbiel said.
"It's good for us to do it," Carpenter said. "Whether they laugh or not, it's still good for us."
For more information about the Pine Village Players, email email@example.com or call 620-345-2901 ext. 263.
Contact Patricia Middleton by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her stories on Twitter at @MacSentinel.