Commissioned by Southbank Centre

The Eldership Project


What is the role of the elder in the 21st century?

We know them in stories: the toothless old cowboy, the crone with her potions, the grandfather who can relate to tearaway teenagers and the former ballerina who knows the price that must be paid.

Elders in stories know that their days of finding the cure / treasure / true love are over but they help the hero or heroine by being wise and older and … just there.

But those are stories. Stories need Elders but we don’t. In twenty first century Britain Elders have nothing to offer us, do they?

Improbable, led by Artistic Directors Phelim McDermott and Lee Simpson have set out to re-imagine the role of Eldership for a society that seems to think that Elder means elderly and elderly means that you’re not much use to anyone. The Eldership Project is an intimate work in progress. A piece in search of the lost path to Eldership: part installation, part performance, part conversation.

The Eldership Project was first presented at the Queen Elizabeth Hall at the Southbank Centre in 2015.

Directed by Phelim McDermott and Lee Simpson
Choreography by Rosemary Lee
Designed by Aldona Cunningham and Alice Purcell
Lighting Design by Alexandra Stone
Music composed and performed by David Coulter
Dramaturgy by Sarah Grange
Stage Managed by Lorna Warrington

Performed by Pat Barker, Caroline Blakiston, Nick Hale, Colin McLean and Tim Preece.






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