Activity: Talk or presentation types › Invited talk
Representations of ageing femininity in mainstream theatre tend to reproduce the sort of narratives of decline (Gullette ) that have been prevalent in dramatic forms for many centuries. Age in such dramas is often associated with dementia, euthanasia, profligacy, ossification and hopelessness. In addition, frail old age (both in men and women) can even be rendered obscene – that is, relegated to an off-stage position. This tends to reinforce negative attitudes to age and especially to aged women. Veteran performance artists such as Peggy Shaw, Lois Weaver, Wendy Houstoun, Liz Aggiss and Bobby Baker are refiguring the experience of ageing femininity through experimental and autobiographical performance. This presentation looks at such post-dramatic performances, investigating the ways in which they might challenge normative, internalized narratives of ageing femininity. Themes of frailty, sexuality, care, behaviour, social attitudes to age and transgression are explored to discover how the work of these experienced women solo performers might both acknowledge and subvert the prevalent narrative of decline and trouble normative attitudes to ageing femininity.