“The play’s the thing”: theatre as a scholarly meeting ground in age studies

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Valerie Barnes Lipscomb


Addressing three current critical turns in gerontology, this article proposes the theatre as a fertile ground for various theoretical angles in age studies - including the performative on and off stage, the narrative in the script and the critical questioning of age and ageism in the multiple realities of performance. Beginning from a shared site in the theatre, researchers may be able to establish greater common ground, resulting not only in multi-disciplinary efforts but also in truly interdisciplinary work. With a foundation in performance studies, this article suggests promising directions for age studies and theatre scholarship by examining three aspects of theatrical production: a play script, Jan de Hartog’s popular The Fourposter (1951); a collaborative development of a script and production, Jeanette Mathewes Stevens’ 2010 senior drama ElderSpeak; and a performance, a 2011 song-and-dance revue staged by an established senior theatre troupe, the Sarasota Senior Theater.


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