Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Live Rehearsed Reading of Age Queer


 My first experience of organizing a rehearsed reading. I learnt a lot!  Big thanks to my actors: Alan Coveney, Tom Cuthbertson and Poppy Germaine and my director Ellie Chadwick. Publicity and images below.

               The Graffiti Room, Trinity Centre, Trinity Road, Bristol BS2 0NW.   

                                          Thursday, January 20th., 7.00 p.m.

‘I want to be age queer by rejecting not my age but the fixed meanings that people assign to it, the roles and stereotypes that I decline to abide by.” (Applewhite, A. 2019:43)

Sickened by institutional ageism in U.K. society, a sociologist  explores age queerness through the lives of Alan, an architect and gay man and Norma, a barmaid, occasional sex worker and later in life, an artist.  He  guides us through the formative, political events and settings in 1980’s London that shape their  world-view, individuality and which ground their ongoing friendship.  The play takes the form of an ethnography,  the sociologist  alternately intruder and provocateur within the action, or guide, critic and narrator outside it. 

The play considers whether Alan’s  and Norma’s radical, sensual pasts inform their resistance to  the ageist stereotyping and challenges to their autonomy they face  in later life.  Is being age queer a viable identity?    

The play runs for approximately 1hr. 20 mins.

[This script was supported by Theatre West in 2021 under their Arts Council funded, Zooming Ahead Scheme for Women Writers  Theatre West - What (theatre-west.co.uk)]

Some images (thank you Andreea Brown and Rebecca Braccialarghe)

I wish I had booked longer, allowing time for a proper Q & A rather than asking audience to scribble comments on the back of the programme sheets. However some good and useful feedback:-

Really enjoyed it, lots to like, very engaging. Thought the framing of the 1981 year / era worked well.  The images were very emotive eg. Bobby Sands.  One of my favourite bits was Brian the well meaning Silver Quester / Funeral Director. Some of these bits of dialogue were hilarious and highly accurate insightful. Think this could be developed further. Excellent writing.  Characters seemed very real.  Liked the use of props eg. toys.  Liked how Norma’s hunger strike linked back to Bobby Sands.


Script was beautiful, almost poetic.  The flow of the story was good.  I was able to keep track very easily.  I felt the scene at Mark’s house could have been put further towards the beginning to prevent the back and forth.  I cried at the end.   Truly captivating.


 I feel that it took shape and told a story in an imaginative, funny and moving way. The actors did a great job of it, I thought the young woman (Penny??) was really good - very focused, intensely human and likeable, great to watch on stage - they all did well, I thought.

I thought the scene at the door of the lockdown residential home was strong and got me all emotional - it portrayed the sense of powerlessness on both sides of the door with raw clarity. The loss of identity with that awful night dress!


Things that worked: Scene with 2 characters and charity worker in the café.  80s scene with brother of the artist who owned the flat.  80’s scene with policeman and Bobby Sands poster.

Things I found  challenging; Not sure about the sociologist too much telling and not enough showing?  Personally found the ending very sad but maybe that’s the reality!


Verbal comments:  The play highlighted how much age, as in later life,  is neglected in society and nobody takes account of how different we all are.  One audience member made reference to relatives whose lives  were reflected in the play.  How accurate the care home setting was. 


ACTORS’ feedback:  What about Norma and Alan being played by actors in their late thirties who might better capture both ends of the age spectrum in the play?

There’s a need to clarify the degree to which the sociologist objectifies his research subjects, Alan and Norma and the extent to which he empathises with them.

+ a very useful debrief session with Tom Cuthbertson giving me more thoughts for clarifying the script. 





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