October 5, 2023

Age really is only a number in this stage play

(L-R) cast members Betty Meriweather and Larry Keough and director Sandra Gay. - Ray Steele

(L-R) cast members Betty Meriweather and Larry Keough and director Sandra Gay.

Ray Steele

The stars of the play “Grandmothers Incorporated” are exactly what the title of the play implies. “Grandmothers Incorporated” was written by a pair of local writers; Crystal V. Rhodes and Lily Barnett Evans, and it's about to be performed in Indianapolis for the very first time at the Phoenix Theatre Cultural Center.  Sandra Gay, the director of the play and two of its stars – Betty Meriweather and Larry Keough – joined WFYI’s Ray Steele to talk about it.

RAY STEELE: Sandra, what is “Grandmother's Incorporated” about?

SANDRA GAY: It's billed as a murder mystery, although nobody actually dies. They do beat him up quite a lot.

STEELE: So, an almost murder mystery?

GAY:  Almost. They let him live, though we do beat him up. The purpose of the play is to show what pokers --that's what I call seniors, people of a certain age -- that they are capable of anything. So, the storyline involves four poker ladies and one poker bad guy..

STEELE: I assume that’s you, Mr. Keough?

LARRY KEOUGH: Yes, yes it is.

STEELE: How does it feel to play the bad guy, Larry?

KEOUGH: Well, it's a role I know well.  I was labeled that from a very young age. But it's exciting, it's new. And to be the first to do it, that just takes it over the top. I'm glad to be able to show that once you're past the age of 65, it's not over. It's just the beginning.

STEELE: Betty Meriweather is 92. Incredibly.  Would that make you the eldest of the cast here, Betty?

BETTY MERIWEATHER: I would say so.

STEELE: How did you get involved in this?

MERIWEATHER: Through our church.  They talked about it. (I was) curious. So I started in some of the classes. And at the time, it was not really acting. I think it was really trying to teach us how to use our minds. That it doesn't matter how old we were. And so, the acting just, I guess, to me, became a part of what we were doing -- even dance steps and that sort of thing, which I liked. The acting, I never thought of it, but it is it's interesting, kind of hard on the brain. And yes, I'm 92 and I don't want to use that as an excuse. But I, I know that I have a little bit of a problem of hanging on to words like this. It is interesting. I'm doing something that I really never, never gave a thought to, you know.

STEELE: How is she doing in her debut so far, Sandra?

GAY: Oh, she's fabulous. She keeps everybody in check with her look. THAT look, and she has the last line in the play.

STEELE: Sandra we may have already kind of covered this, but what's the message that this play tries to send and what it ultimately sends?

GAY:  The women on stage are like no grandmothers you have ever, ever, ever encountered in life. But they're real, you know, no pretense. This is what real grandmas do. I know that Crystal and Lily always talk about the standard image of grandmas as caretakers you know, ‘

I'm gonna take the babies to Grandma's.’ Not with these ladies. I hope that when the audience leaves, they leave with “okay. I might want to sit down and talk to my grandmother. See what she knows.”

Sandra Gay is the director of “Grandmother’s Incorporated.”  Betty Meriweather and Larry Keough are two of the stars of the play.  It is playing at the Phoenix Theatre Cultural Center in Indianapolis.  Information is available at phoenixtheatre.org

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