© 2010

Staging Age

The Performance of Age in Theatre, Dance, and Film

  • Editors
  • Valerie Barnes Lipscomb
  • Leni Marshall

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xi
  2. Introduction

    1. Valerie Barnes Lipscomb, Leni Marshall
      Pages 1-7
  3. Film

  4. Theatre

  5. Dance

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 163-163
    2. Jessica Berson
      Pages 165-189
    3. Barbara Dickinson
      Pages 191-206
  6. Back Matter
    Pages 225-238

About this book


This text explores how performers offer conscious-and unconscious-portrayals of the spectrum of age to their audiences. It considers a variety of media, including theatre, film, dance, advertising, and television, and offers critical foundations for research and course design, sound pedagogical approaches, and analyses.


dance film performance television theatre William Shakespeare

About the authors

Author Valerie Barnes Lipscomb: Valerie Barnes Lipscomb is Assistant Professor of English at the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee, USA.

Bibliographic information


"A groundbreaking and timely collection of essays that demonstrates the value of bringing age studies and performance studies into greater dialogue . . . [The essays] are accessible, enlightening, and applicable to a wide audience of practitioners and academics from multiple disciplines . . . Staging Age offers an important and valuable contribution to studies of aging and performance, as it amplifies the range of critical issues addressed by the field, demonstrating the many ways of understanding age in performance." - Theatre Journal

"Readers of Staging Age will find the work both accessible and enlightening. Valerie Lipscomb and Leni Marshall have done a remarkable job putting together this collection of articles. Film and theatre lovers will enjoy the lively essays on those subjects. Dance enthusiasts will particularly rejoice to find three superb articles about an art form that one ordinarily would not associate with the toils of aging. In sum, Staging Age should attract a wide audience and alert newcomers to the pleasures of Age Studies." - Anne M. Wyatt-Brown, Co-Editor of the Journal of Aging, Humanities, and the Arts, Associate Professor Emeritus, Program in Linguistics, the University of Florida, Gainesville

"Staging Age is an imaginative collection of essays that brings together performance and age studies to generate new spaces of thought about the enactment of aging today. Readers can expect an exhilarating journey from classic theatrical texts to Hollywood and the media to the worlds of dance and dancers, while joining the book's leading editors and authors in their critical quest to understand the challenges of representing experience, identity, and meaning in the time of the body." - Stephen Katz, Professor of Sociology, Trent University

"Age Studies here moves briskly into the entertainment biz.Smart critics, steeped in the fascinations of performance, some of them practitioners, write against the grain of the cult of youth and thereby venture into surprising territories. Why old cops in Hollywood movies can't retire. How good theater actresses enliven non-young women characters in the limitedtradition that followed Shakespeare. How to get non-old actors to sound old when playing Becket characters.This book amplifies the range of critical issues, stretching what Age Studies can think and change. - Margaret Morganroth Gullette, author of Aged by Culture and Agewise

"In Staging Age: The Performance of Age in Theatre, Dance, and Filmeditors Valerie Barnes Lipscomb and Leni Marshall have brought together an extraordinary group of scholars, professional performers, and designers of projects involving film, stage plays, and dance performances. Their essays offer a significant contribution to humanistic studies in aging. While literary gerontologists have examined most genres of literature and some films from various theoretical perspectives, little has been published about elders in the performing arts, especially from practitioners' perspectives. The authors of these essays offer fresh methods of studying aging in the performing arts. One essay examines interviews with older female professional Shakespearean actors; others on film use historical or psychoanalytical tools applied imaginatively to analysis of elders in a Hollywood romance, cop films, and Roger Mitchell's The Mother. In the dance section of the collection there are also reflections on audience reactions to dancers' bodies in later life and on the personally-healing effects of choreographing intergenerational dance, revealed through interviews with choreographers Liz Lerman and Stephan Koplowitz. These very-readable essays, in all three sections, suggest ways in which the contemporary performing arts are challenging the narrative of decline in later life, rejecting stereotypes of the older body, and also complicating, through the work of experienced actors, dancers, directors, and choreographers, how we depict and understand elders." - Barbara Frey Waxman, PhD., Author of From the Hearth to the Open Road: A Feminist Study of Aging in Contemporary Literature and To Live in the Center of the Moment: Literary Autobiographies of Aging