Performing Age in Modern Drama

  • Valerie Barnes Lipscomb

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-ix
  2. Valerie Barnes Lipscomb
    Pages 1-11
  3. Valerie Barnes Lipscomb
    Pages 13-45
  4. Valerie Barnes Lipscomb
    Pages 47-76
  5. Valerie Barnes Lipscomb
    Pages 77-115
  6. Valerie Barnes Lipscomb
    Pages 157-181
  7. Back Matter
    Pages 183-202

About this book


This book is the first to examine age across the modern and contemporary dramatic canon, from Arthur Miller and Tennessee Williams to Paula Vogel and Doug Wright.  All ages across the life course are interpreted as performance and performative both on page and on stage, including professional productions and senior-theatre groups.

Act your age.  This common admonition provides the springboard for this study, which rests on the premise that age is performative in nature, and that issues of age and performance crystallize in the theatre.

Dramatic conventions include characters who change ages from one moment to the next, overtly demonstrating on stage the reiterated actions that create a performative illusion of stable age. Moreover, directors regularly cast actors in these plays against their chronological ages. Lipscomb contends that while the plays reflect varying attitudes toward performing age, as a whole they reveal a longing for an ageless self, a desire to present a consistent, unified identity. The works mirror prevailing social perceptions of the aging process as well as the tension between chronological age, physiological age, and cultural constructions of age.


contemporary theatre twentieth century theatre performance age studies dramatic representation identity life course society perception adaptation Paula Vogel Arthur Miller Tennessee Williams Doug Wright Death of a Salesman The Glass Menagerie Our Town Thornton Wilder age aging stage theatre

Authors and affiliations

  • Valerie Barnes Lipscomb
    • 1
  1. 1.Liberal ArtsUniversity of South Florida Sarasota-ManateeSarasotaUSA

Bibliographic information