David Glover is taking a new approach to growing old, and it's getting him rave reviews.
In his one-man musical comedy show "Old Happens" -- performed in senior centers and at aging conferences here and across the country since 2011 -- Glover, 67, of Oakland shares an uplifting message about "glorifying" advanced age rather than fearing it, reaching his audience through song, humor and conversation.
By day, Glover works as a substitute teacher in the East Bay, and he previously taught music in Oakland public and private schools for many years. But his soul thrives as an artist, composer, playwright, actor and vocalist who has performed with the likes of Sly Stone, Al Jarreau and Larry Graham.
Currently, his "Old" show runs every first Sunday of the month at Linen Life Gallery, 770 E. 14th St. in San Leandro. The next performance is scheduled for 4 p.m. Dec. 2. Tickets are $15 online or $20 at the door, www.davidgloverproductions.com, 800-746-4027.
Glover recently took time out from his teaching schedule to answer a few questions via email:
Q How did you come up with "Old Happens?"
A The idea came at one of my lowest points in my own coping with age. I was starting to look at my life as a series of failures I felt I'd created for myself, and I felt like nothing had changed since I was 21. So I fell into the fear mode. I literally became afraid by the thought: You're too old, it's too late, nobody wants anything to do with you now.
Then one day I was sitting by the lake (Lake Merritt), and a light bulb in my mind came on. A thought was processed that said: —'Old Happens,' a one man show about aging. Build a story around aging but aging gracefully."
Q Tell us about the show itself.
A I portray a fictitious character ... who goes through a transition from despair to total bliss and acceptance of the aging process ... demonstrated theatrically through dialogue, song and expressions. I have the audience participate in singalongs ... and I do my best to have an open-ended conversation around this thing we call "old age." I do all this by facing old age head-on and just welcoming it, finding the good in it. In essence, the work I do is healing art.
Q What should we appreciate about aging, rather than seeing it as a negative experience?
A We should first of all appreciate living. The life extension we've been blessed and anointed with should be celebrated, not closed down -- glorified, not condemned. Old age is a blessing, not a curse. We live to grow old for a reason. Growing old is our grand opportunity to draw closer to the divine ... now we start discovering more of our true self, our purpose, we become weaker but wiser, we cling to nature more. These are the blessings so often overlooked in our culture.
Q Where have you performed? Who is your audience -- older folks, or young people?
A Since early 2011, I have performed "Old Happens" at primarily senior facilities. But also theaters, cafes and lounges throughout the Bay Area, and all the way to Chicago. My target audience has been seniors of all walks of life from active retirees to Alzheimer's patients.
Q Why do you think it's important to share this kind of information?
A When I did my research on aging and the ageist implications that are so (prevalent) in our culture, I was shocked to learn that many people are more afraid of aging than dying. To me that's a clear indication that we just don't get the emotional support or preparation for transitioning into old age ... in this culture.