How can the wisdom, power and mystery of mature women theatre makers be more visible?

Convener(s): Kath and Peta

Participants: Kath Burlinson, Peta Lily, Fiona Watson, Katherina Raderq, Cindy Oswin, Rebecca manson Jones, Rikki Tarascas, Alsion Goldie, Emma Falkner, Debbie Kent, Mandy Fenton, Mufrida Hayes, Regina Mander (?) Morna Burdon 

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

Session started with a couple of physical activities…a physical pose to represent one’s relationship to power/wisdom/mystery followed by a shamanic process which integrated the daily experience of femaleness with the opposing forces which prevent full expression of mystery, wisdom, power .

Then discussion began---questions about what constitutes maturity, whether there IS a problem with visibility, lack of strong female characters for women over a certain age, what to do about that.

Who would it benefit if mature women’s theatre work WAS more visible?  Can it benefit younger people? Men as well as women?

Desire to do something ACTIVE about it…a network, a workshop, or a weekend of activities including performances, workshops, work in progress etc. One woman suggested that we create a piece developed from and inspired by the physical work and themes inherent within the short practical exercises at the start of the workshop.

Personal relationship to age and ageing—on an individual level, suggestion to face that really positively and not succumb to ageism oneself.

Question about content-representing real stories, real lives (not stereotypical representations), stories about the way women live.

Discussion about what wisdom, mystery, power means, and if those words are catalysts.

Generational invitation—we are the new “long livers” –can we see this as a great opportunity? Universalizing experience and creating new value for wisdom in materialist, youth culture?

Reinterpretations of great plays…and with older women actors playing male roles, but also perhaps older women playing younger female roles eg Juliet?  Cross agegroup projects were also discussed eg teens and crones.

Some participants keen to focus on opportunities and invitations, others challenging the terms of discussion, and some unloading of personal professional issues.

What happened to the Women’s Playhouse Trust and what has happened to make the International Women’s Theatre Festival collapse?  Why is there still so little work featuring mature women, characters and performers, on the main stages? What about the media, sacking of older women presenters, newsreaders etc? 

Sphinx theatre group ran writing workshop encouraging people to write strong female roles.—a positive move.

Also story of Simon Stevens’ plays Harper Regan with Lesley Sharp—how it began as a play for a man and was reconceived due to pressure from National  Theatre, resulting in massive critical hit!

Can we tap into entrepreneurial attitude?  Eg Lindsey Cosner (?) goes into big theatres saying “I will solve a problem for you which you never knew you had”

Importance of contacting powerful women with influence eg Joan Bakewell, Judi Dench, Helen Mirren, Germaine Greer, Vivienne Westwood?

Can we keep beginning?  In a good way?  (One participant said “I want to be able to keep beginning”….her tone full of longing and adventure)

Many people signed up to become part of an email network to continue to develop the ideas and plans of the group.

The possibility of a consultancy group was also mentioned –could also be a pressure group – possible outcomes as abover …i.e a workshop, or a weekend of activities including performances, workshops, work in progress etc.