Phelim called this session on Monday morning.


These notes are excited but poor!

Sorry no names except Jack!

I called this session after experiencing the five D&D’s and others elsewhere. A big and amazing part of the events is the relationships around eldership.

An obvious example is younger artists seeking the wisdom and experience of older artists. I gave the example of seeing Betty Bourne support Michael Twaits a couple of years ago as a young gay artist. It was also remarkable to hear Betty tell stories of his you activism and performance. These stories are an important legacy. 

I saw that D&D has the possibility to nurture and facilitate these relationships. I also have a strong desire to continue this as it is an important part of our community which can be neglected. Particularly in theatre performance older people can become isolated and we are losing the places in which this exchange can happen. Also OS supports this to happen in a subtle way not just as an information exchange but in a context which is enjoyable for both and has a genuine quality to with integrity.

The relationship is also a two way one the elder learns from the “pupil” and vice versa.

Someone (forgive forgot to get names please let us know) Talked about their festival “Bealtaine“ which celebrates creativity in older age.

They had learned a lot about eldership through the passing on of traditional irish music and in how it was considered learning together. It was an exchange relationship.

They had ambassadors who were older people.

He said they had a certain definition of what Age was:

  • someone 10 years older than yourself (so it was a fluid thing in relation to oneself)
  • someone with experience. 

and elder was: 

  • You might start at any time
  • Significantly affected by loss
  • Something that you’ve always done.

Condsiderations in the project were opportunities for older people to create.

Older people challenged to make new work

If we were thinking of the future and Elders at the D&D event access was a consideration. Security and Hearing and warmth!

This was an opportunity to look at art through a different lens.

it was a horizontal landscape

So not a hierarchical one and could happen in lots of different places.

We said this was about supporting and facilitation wise conversation not about ”getting a job“ from someone.

We said that Open Space helps but is difficult to describe if you haven’t experienced it.

Mandela’s Elders were talked about : Global elders a project supported by Peter Gabriel and By Branson

The sharing of wisdom and of Practice.

I talked about wanting to Honour the Elders.

it was part of D&D but I had a dream of a project/performance ritual which did this.

It was perhaps especially for those who were maverick and then potentially isolated. Who could get forgotten.

I wanted to honour them so they didnt  just feel crazy or undervalued. I also recognised that i wanted to honour that elder in myself. This was a role that could move between us. Young people could be an elder too. 

My selfish motive was that I did not want to end up bitter myself as an Elder!

If this was a Rite of passage what would this rite be.


Practical Things:

Jack talked about wanting to work with Vivian Pickles and he had to approach her around the agency a he was told she wasn’t working now. He did and she was amazing.

James talked about being mentored by me (I’d forgotten!) and at first he expected answers and asked about  how to get Impro to be reliable and always work.. and I said well I don’t know. Actually saying I didn’t know (How to make sure an improvised show worked) was useful. Because he realised it wasn’t about getting THE answer.

What was useful was an honest relationship.

We talked about practical ways to bring the Elders to D&D The invitation was important but also that they would know it wouldn’t be an off putting event.

Other thing that was important was the space..

  • Warmth
  • Hearing
  • Security

Matilda suggested that there was a great oppprtunity in older people being directed by younger people.

If we invite them how do we find them?

Who are they?

Could everyone think of two or three people who should come?  Make a commitment to getting them along.

Should we have another open space about this.. yes but we shouldn’t  create a ghetto.. this would be to continue the energy of this conversation.

A separate one would feed back in. 

Elders being present is yet another diversity issue for this group and its potential creativity. 

Is this event only for people who arent working. We showed hands for who has been working for six months or more or not.

It was half and half. 

we had another discussion re diversity and dance and does the word theatre put dance people off.

We talked about the Archetype of the Elder

In South Africa with Mandela 

The Elders helped create peace.

In our culture we celebrate the wise silent guru type elder but not necessarily the crazy fool. with crazy wisdom

David Bailey: I don’t know everything.. but i know the 400 mistakes you can make.

Matilda talked of Rosemary Lee’s intergenerational work. non verbal channels support this work and cross boundaries between the ages.. dancing together.. 

this event has a bias twards youth..

Equity meetings are 80% older people.. 

Lets create a culture where it is communicated that it’s  attractive to be old  counter to the celebration of youth youth youth.


THE FIRE. The circle of theElders

I talked about my idea for a project that was inspired by Somerset house OS we did that could be an Eldership project. prompted by the light wells and the coal shutes.. The bringing of coal to building a fire or hearth that the Elders would sit at.

The fire could be made..  the younger people would come and and ask questions or give thanks or honour to the circle of elders. We talked about how we were in a circle and doing this in the moment ourselves. Someone suggested that those who came could bring a piece of coal for the fire.

There were some other defenitions of Guru..

S/he who reminds..

Jack talked about Philip Tobias who was able to radically change his life view and belief about his anthropological ideas in his SEVENTIES! because of a discovery he made. 

Elder :

- One who is detached and welcomes all the voices.

- One who continues

- One who starts.

Someone said that this aspect of elders and theatre was studied academically in The US but not here. Theatre and Aging.Is it studied?

Someone mentioned the Silver Festival. 

The university of the third age was mentioned.

Someone from the arts council had heard about D&D through their academic connections not their work connections.

We talked about the improbable mentoring fete.

Getting mentoring relationships past the age of 30 was difficult as then you were seen as in the profession and were peers or competition.

It is possible to become a beginner at 60. We are always a beginner. There are repercussions of the Harriet Harmon age equality bill.

What do elders need ..

before they die a sense of recognotion. living on in people talking.. a legacy

People who are older say ”We are invisible“

The Elder’s relationship to Death and mortality is important. Reconciling to death is important.

What is the legacy? It is a big mysthic story.

Reading of a deceased on a plaque or a gravestone their presence is still felt..

they dead are still present as active elders. We must not forget them. THE ANCESTORS are elders who are now dead.

Mark Rylance’s ceremeny at the Globe to welcome the ancestors to the new globe was powerful.

WE ourselves were already present in the thoughts of our ancestors before we were born.

I was very excited about getting our relatives/elders to the next D&D. 

I made a personal commitment to move forward on the Eldership project as a performance ritual for the Improbable company soon.


Tell people they wont have to do weird shit or too physical theatre exercises if they dont want!

Lets look after the tenor of the environment..

look after the silent ones.

Could I would I bring my Grandmother here?

Lets include the Older people in our lives.

lets have a monthly D&D about this?

Email people who we want to come.

Think of a simple way to honour the elders in our everyday life this week and do it!

Someone talked about a plaque they walked past on their way to work and it says” 

“ROY BYFORD ACTOR” and this made him feel proud to be an actor himself.