Weathering any storm: Leslie Uggams has had many costars, including feathered ones (above), and many twists and turns in her 50-year career. This month, she’s both costar and mentor on Broadway to Yaya DeCosta in a revival of Leslie Lee’s The First Breeze of Summer.


The
actresses’ simultaneous presence onstage — something that was not done
in the original version — underscores the tangle of naïveté and
experience, actions and consequences that accumulates across time. The
play depicts the generational tensions that pull at a close-knit,
working-class African-American family. Both performers — one an
enduring star whose career spans 50 years, the other making her
professional theatrical debut — have won plaudits for capturing this
difficult blend….



“First Breeze” is part of Signature’s
celebration of the early years of the Negro Ensemble Company,
established in 1967 to give black artists more chances to showcase
work. During this same period Ms. Uggams was riding a wave of new
opportunities for black entertainers, particularly on television. Decades
later, though, it is often hard to find meaty, nonstereotypical roles
for black women in any medium.

Ms. Uggams said she also worried that
productions of new plays by black authors would become even scarcer now
that August Wilson is dead. Ms. DaCosta agrees that available
roles can sometimes be disappointing, but she is also encouraged by
what she says is a trend of open casting, where a character’s race or
ethnicity is not specified. She added that even if a role was written
for a white woman, it was “still possible to blow them away in the
audition.” Ms. Uggams nodded.

Twenty-two weeks? That’s how long it takes for someone over 55 to find a new job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  Sarah Needleman at CareerJournal asked experts for some tips on how to weather that search. Among the results:


Get tech savvy. If you
haven’t yet figured out what text messaging, instant messaging, social
networking and other tech-related activities are all about, now is the
time, says Roy Cohen, a career counselor and executive coach in New
York. Employers are increasingly using these tools in their business
strategies and for communicating in the workplace. Showing you’re
familiar with them may help you make a favorable impression, he says.

Curb age bias.
You can address some of the common, unspoken predispositions that
hiring managers may have about senior candidates — like fears that
older workers lack energy or are already looking ahead to retirement —
says Mr. Opton. Casually reveal information to counteract that, he
explains. You might say, “I’m sorry I wasn’t in when you called…I was
in the middle of a six-mile jog.” Everything from your hair to your
shoes should convey your status as a successful professional, says
Susan Sommers, a business image coach in New York. Covering up gray
hair isn’t necessary, but a contemporary style avoids the impression
“that you’re stuck in the past,” she says.

And they didn’t even spend their walks memorizing those lists. More evidence from an Australian study about the benefits of moderate exercise to keep the mind in gear:

The
study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association,
involved 170 participants aged 50 and over who reported some memory
trouble but who did not have dementia. Half engaged in moderate
exercise, such as walking, for 50 minutes three times a week, while the
others did no exercise.

After six
months, the participants were given memory and other tests, including
recalling lists of words. Those who exercised fared markedly better
than those who did not. “The trial is the first to demonstrate that
exercise improves cognitive function in older adults with subjective
and objective mild cognitive impairment,” according to the report.


You can stop squinting, now.
Carmakers are finally getting hip to what we need when we’re busy juggling three sets of glasses, according to BoomerWatch.
Soon, we might have our own little video game going in the windshield
(though likely less exciting than Grand Theft Auto, left):

General
Motors researchers are working on developing a windshield that combines
lasers, infrared sensors and a camera to take what’s happening on the
road and enhance it, so ageing drivers with vision problems are able to
see a little more clearly. The 65-year-old population in North America
will nearly double in about 20 years, meaning more people will be
struggling to see the road like they used to. GM’s new windshield won’t
improve their vision, but it will make objects stand out that could
otherwise go unnoticed by an aged eye.

The
windshield is designed specifically for older drivers, who have vision
problems at a much higher rate than other age groups. Currently, 12.4
percent of the population in the U.S. is 65 or older, but by 2030, that
percentage is projected to jump to 20 percent. Canada is pretty much in
the same boat. Chrysler said the company is also working on such
windshield technologies, but Ford didn’t have any similar plans.

Some
cars already feature head-down displays, small screens in the dashboard
that show an enhanced view of what is in front of the car. Head-up
displays, so called because a driver doesn’t have to look down to see
the information, are also available.

— Chris L.

 

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