By Judy Garrison
Actor/director Dorothy Lyman, a Gladstone Hollow/Andes resident since 2003, has recently completed her first documentary, Janet’s Class. It will receive its first public screening on Saturday, February 5th, at 7 pm in the Yellow Room of the Andes Hotel. An offering of $10 to benefit the Andes Presbyterian Church is suggested.
Dorothy, who has in recent years produced and directed two feature films, currently teaches directing at the New School in New York City one day a week (when she isn’t at home in Andes tending to her horses and chickens, or visiting her friends and family including her two grandbabies in Los Angeles).
What impelled Dorothy to make a film of this group of 14 senior citizens, ages 50 to 92, who are taking an acting class from teacher Janet Sarno (also a senior)? “I am not enjoying aging, am finding it a problem, this getting older. So I forced myself to look at older folks, hoping it might help.” Along with that motivation, her objective was to offer the audience insight into aging, and from a professional perspective she hoped to shine a light on a diversity of acting techniques and what it takes to be a good actor. Felicitously, as she followed her subjects in the development of their scenes and interviewed them, both in class and in apartment settings, she found them to exemplify creative and happy aging.
Dorothy and Janet Sarno became acquainted when Sarno was cast to play Aunt Connie in Lyman’s film Split Ends. Sarno, who has taught music and acting in a multiplicity of settings, teaches this course in a church basement.
Dorothy shot this film herself, a first for her. When she started to video the student actors she wasn’t sure it was going to develop into a full length documentary. The absence of a “crew” may have helped foster an atmosphere where the actor/subjects could easily open up to her. Grammy Award-winner Bill Cunliffe, wrote the score. The film was edited by Anisha Tomlinson who cut Dorothy’s previous project, Split Ends.
Dorothy encourages attendees to have cocktails and dinner at the hotel first, and she welcomes feedback after the 1 hour 15 minute film.~