Why I Go the Extra Mile
Lessons on Stage
Retired teacher shares Her love of theater with the community and students
Long before she retired from 20 years of teaching English and theater, Bobbi Wolf (pictured left) dreamed of keeping students and the community of lower Merion, Pa., connected to theater. “I watched my students come alive on stage and in the classroom,” says Wolf. “I watched them discover new worlds and experiences and knew I couldn’t just retire and leave it all behind. I loved theater’s ability to educate.”
As they returned from a performance at a theater arts center in Philadelphia, Wolf’s daughter Betsy Wolf Regn, who is also a retired teacher, helped to fuel her mother’s dream. “You know Mom, we can do this,” she said.
During her final years of teaching, Wolf used her spare time to raise funds, select a site, and organize staffing and programs. In September 2005, shortly after she retired, Wolf opened the doors of the Wolf Performing Arts Center.
“The Center offers not only classes and summer camp for children and teens in the greater Philadelphia areas, but we also have a touring company that visits local schools, community centers, and retirement homes,” explains Wolf. “We bring theater to communities that may not experience it otherwise and we offer many of these performances free.”
While some of the plays are tried and true classics, such as WPAC’s current plays “Midsummer Night’s Dream,” and “Winnie the Pooh,” the theater also offers original programs.
Wolf is passionate about the Holocaust, and another production brings the era to life. “The Butterfly Project is based on a poem about the children of the concentration camp at Theresienstadt,” Wolf explains. “It is a powerful piece and we are so lucky to be performing it.” The play is already receiving awards and requests for performances beyond the region. “We are so very proud of our young actors whose portrayals are so moving,” says Wolf. “We even have an actress who played one of the children when she was in sixth grade and has now returned to play one of the adult roles. Theater is life-changing.”
These days, Wolf is busier than ever. The Center offers classes for students who are preK thru high school, and provides scholarships. Wolf fundraises constantly to keep the Center strong. “My place will always be in educational theater,” says Wolf. “It’s my life, and even more so in retirement.”
Visit the Wolf Performing Arts Center website for more information.