Intergenerational work – how do we make and produce it

Convener(s): Lynnette Moran  

Participants: Niamh Mc Cann, Jonathan Petherby, Dominic Campbell, Rebecca – from mercury theatre, Mark Phoenix, Jack Klaff 

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

The starting point for the conversation was a look at the number of platforms available to emerging artists…a lot of emerging is happening.  However where are the platforms for artists who have been making work for 30, 40 or 50 + years?

Why is their a general expectation that the work of older artists will be retrospective as opposed to innovative, current, contemporary and culturally relevant…or does this expectation exist?

Does innovation and the theatre of the future belong to emerging artists or is this ownership shared with longer practicing artists?

How do we generate platforms, events, opportunities and funding to support this development of older artist? 

It was noted through specific examples that longevity in a theatre maker’s career affords the artist a type of luxury - to refine methodologies, document work, simplify processes, choose projects carefully, condense touring etc. 

However in contrast this luxurious status also defines the levels of ‘risk’ that can take place.  How can an established theatre maker, normally associated with the main stage generate new experimentation, play smaller spaces, scratch and test ideas, new collaborations, forms and techniques?  Where is the space for constructive risk and failure? 

What are the contrasts and tensions that are derived from an older artist asking a younger artist for advice or mentoring - as opposed to a younger artist asking an older artist for mentoring or advice?

We discussed presentation, audience and frameworks.

It was noted that the first generation of experimental theatre makers, performance artists and dancer/choreographers are just reaching their 80’s now.  In a sense the innovation of older artists is relatively new territory.

We also discussed the changes in structure and form applied by maturing experimental companies – and we collectively look forward to watching other companies develop over time. 

How do we define ‘generation’?  What is it perceived to be?

Is it age brackets such as 20 – 30, 30-40, and 40 – 50?

Or is it schools of thought – different generations of learning or types of training?

Schools of Thought V’s Age Brackets

It was decided amongst the group the term ‘intergenerational’ was not suitable to best describe the exchange that takes place between younger and older artists – however we were undecided what an alternative term could be however the group agreed they could identify the primary potential that intergenerational work offered was through ‘an exchange of language’, so perhaps this is was good starting point.