BY LAURA MUNTS
Laura Munts is a Utah-based writer. Her first-ever play, "Whose To-Do's to Do," is a family love story highlighting the challenges and humor of aging.
A graduate of Georgetown University Law Center, Laura also practices conflict resolution and mediation.
Up until sitting down to write this post, I did not like the name of Plan-B’s Creative Aging Playwriting Workshop. Although “Creative Aging” is a term of art encompassing important policy ideas for older adults, it seemed to me like jargon for “Playwriting for Old Folks.” Another version of a senior discount twofer: seniors, you get to pay less and be less valued. I was wrong. An incredible faculty of veteran theater professionals did not offer any discounts based on aging bodies, egos or abilities. Instead, they offered this twofer: we will teach you the basics of playwriting and you get to choose how you relate to aging. Although the second twofer was never presented as a choice, it was highlighted in the title of the workshop as a possibility, a possibility that called to all of us who participated.
“I am aging but I’m not creative. I don’t belong in this class. I’m too old to ...” On and off throughout the course, I made these and other self-deprecating declarations. For now, I am calling this mindset “Cautious Aging.” My Cautious Aging orientation to learning playwriting, to learning anything, sucked the courage, curiosity and creativity out of my writing.
Fortunately, the faculty demonstrated, without ever talking about, Creative Aging. Week after week, assignment after assignment, we all started taking greater risks with our writings, feedback and ownership of learning and applying the basics of playwriting. For me, the turning point happened after one class in which I received very accurate and less than positive feedback about my homework assignment. I began to spiral into a Cautious Aging mindset (keep in mind that I had not yet identified what this was, so I thought it was the truth). Then, I snapped out of it because I was turning 65 the next day and had no patience for “I’m too old to …” limiting beliefs.
I wish I could report that having made this birthday eve choice to embrace a Creative Aging mindset, I no longer have to deal with the Cautious Aging inner and outer voices: voices that lead to dead ends. But Creative Aging is an ongoing, life-affirming choice which is beautiful in its own way because as long as I realize I have a choice, I have a voice.
The 10-minute play “Whose To-Dos To Do” was my final homework assignment. I love how the characters evolved during the writing process and how they reflect the courage, honesty and humor it takes to age and stay connected to loved ones. I’m fairly certain these characters would not exist if I had stayed in a Cautious Aging mindset.
Laura Munts's short play “Who's To-Dos To Do” receives its world premiere on a triple bill with two short plays by Elaine Jarvik (one of the faculty of Plan-B's Creative Aging Playwriting Workshop) as part of SENIOR STAGES, a co-production with Davis Arts Council touring to senior care communities in Davis County October 16-26, 2023.