'"It Did Get Rid of the 'These People Are Old People' Thing in My Brain": Challenging the Otherness of Old Age Through One-to-One Performance

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This paper concerns the one-to-one performance work of Passages—a group of performers aged between 60 and 90—founded to support Bridie Moore’s PhD research into the performance of age and ageing. It analyzes how these performances challenge perceptions of the old person as “other,” and uses audience feedback, together with performance and social theory to explore how the work achieves this. The group uses mask work, proximity and intimate performance as a form of quiet activism, to challenge structures of thinking in subtle and penetrating ways. The analysis refers to the performance The Mirror Stage, given at the University of Sheffield (UK) in September 2015, and the paper discusses the one-to-one performance form and the eight one-to-one performances that were presented in the show. It engages with de Beauvoir’s (1953/1972) and Phelan’s (1993) notions of the “other” in order to explore the way the perception of otherness plays out and is disrupted by the presence of the old person in one-to-one performance. The paper introduces the possibility that the contact facilitated by one-to-one could, as Allport (1954) argued, reduce prejudice concerning individuals who are members of outgroups such as the “old” and, by extension, to other marginalized individuals and groups.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)185-201
Number of pages17
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2019


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