Am I too Old?

Convener(s): Mary O’Connor

Participants: Gary Horsman,Simon Pittmon, Rod Dixon, Joe Austin, Louise Jeffreys,Alison Goldie, Sally Rose, Adam Brace,Tim Taylor,Dee evans, Clare Fischer, Daniel Copeland,Lee Simpson, Adrian Gillott, David Lff, Barry Wilson, Robin Geffry

(apologies if I spelt your name wrong)

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

Am I too old?

A question that is hanging around the air (I’m 45) . “I’m not bitter” was an addendum to the title because this session was not to be about complaining about not being young.

Stories are old

Are we obsessed about new and young?... what does that mean?

(young audience etc, theatre for youth.) Many audience promo ideas are youth focused. How and why ? before they go off the rails?

Though in the music industry it is largely performed by youth, the audiences now are diverse and allowed .Young Vic in ’98 ran a programme to get anyone in to watch theatre regardless of age. London wide cheap tickets No assumptions  made and it was successful.

Programmes run in Yorkshire 18+  and older people do apply. some young people don’t believe they will live beyond 30.pressures and sense of responsibility for  a world that was dying anyway a darkness in the future. limit a long-term-view.

Young people can take on unpaid work. They can afford to. Younger audiences will come they just need to be asked.

New audiences are not necessarily young. New in  theatre is not necessarily created by /from young people./ new generations.

Do people train too young ? Concept of training young gives of  a sense of 8/10 years ahead to “make it”  to process, to “get there” and that Getting there was getting paid. Success = money. A belief that If you stick around long enough you will make a living. People do quit so there are less “older” actors around if you leave it till you are older you could have the advantage of having created a stability around you financially or otherwise.

We came to the conclusion that there was a handicap around trying to get  to a place in your artistic career by a certain age; that it could be limiting.

Experience of one woman director; she felt discrimination, felt too old.

We talked about NOW how that is important, nobody is too old /young just get on with it.. being older means “we hold ourselves back”  “they’re going to think I’m too old/ not accepted”  “I’m measured by what I have directed” we need to get over this view. Get on with NOW. Another woman director went to drama school in mid ‘40’s. “when you are older you have background, I came out with a toolbox. No-one said I was too old” RSC didn’t turn her down when she applied to be an assistant director. ‘though the Haymarket does limit access to older directors.

Someone’s experience , big questions:  Am I too old to return to theatre? How? I was born into it , I went to Drama Centre. is it too late for me to find a mentor?

Then his experiences of being a young “arrogant” 20 year old at drama school excluding a 40+ student in his year group, marginalised them . This sowed the seeds for his current self-limiting.Prejudices that are created in our youth and we carry as we mature without realising it to prejudice ourselves. Self fulfilling prophecy.

We can choose weather we collude with the prejudices (even we hold against our own aging) or not. Noticing that. Older people put themselves into and are put into roles.


Being Bitter

We noticed that old and bitter was negative.

young and bitter was a healthy angst

What do we do/ how can we not be bitter?  Answers found in Buddhism/meditation/reflection.

“I’m not bitter now but I have been “

Owning up and facing what has to be done. Bitterness  exists in young people in theatre not only older people.

Peer Mentoring

We talked around this . We are different.don’t worry about the differences. There are differences between being 60 or 20.find a point of contact. Don’t want to   wait to enforce/prescribe interaction. Find a point of contact.Mutual learning where in the right environment and context age is ignored.common will and purpose can cross boundaries of age. Don’t patronize. Don’t step into a role that isn’t asked for (ie offering advice-being patronizing)


Death of amateur theatre due to lack of space, we talked about finding space squatting in spaces to rehearse.

What is the role of arts centre,  for everyone?

.we can Be vigilant, look after ourselves and look after older people in our families and community.

Making mistakes is ok, learning from beginning to end.