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Theatre Ouest End Presents 'Still Got Something to Say: 6 Plays on Age' in June

It streams from June 1-15; tickets are pay-what-you-decide.

Theatre Ouest End Presents 'Still Got Something to Say: 6 Plays on Age' in June

With support from the Canada Council for the Arts 'Digital Now!' grant, Theatre Ouest End commissioned six seasoned Canadian playwrights to write short plays exploring the theme of age, ageing and the challenges of navigating an ageist world. Notable playwrights Jane Gilchrist, Debra Kirshenbaum, Ann Lambert, Kent Stetson, Judith Thompson and Rahul Varma came together to generate new digital work. Beautifully shot and edited, Still Got Something to Say: 6 Plays on Age is a treat to watch. It streams from June 1-15; tickets are pay-what-you-decide.

Company Co-Artistic Directors Ann Lambert and Laura Mitchell are delighted with the way each playwright embraced the pivot from page to stage to film. They began the creative process by asking: What does 'old' mean? How does growing older often mean becoming the 'other'? How does ageism intersect with genderism, ableism, racialization, and socio-economic marginalization?

Ranging in ages from 64-82, and including two Governor General's Award winners, the writers created short (10-20 minute) plays, monologues or scenes that reflect their authentic lived experience. Theatre Ouest End has always been interested in intergenerational exchange; here playwrights were invited to work with an emerging director. The ninety-minute final result offers a broad spectrum of experience and style-from comedic to tragic and the many spaces in between, often portraying alternatives to deep-seated stereotypes about ageing. Sensitively and intelligently directed and acted, topical, hot-button issues and stories include bridging the generation gap, differing political ideas, poignant decline, late-in-life romance, redundancy, and an 'Irish Queen' in a home for the aged.

"The ideas expressed in this work have been dear to our hearts for several years now; its urgency and timeliness has been given new weight in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. There is an entire society and its industries devoted to ensuring that we internalize ageism; we want to explore how this manifests itself in our lives, and in our creative lives," said Mitchell. Lambert concurred, adding, "We want to challenge repressive notions of what ageing and old age implies, and create something that expresses more diverse, inclusive and socially enfranchising meanings."

The experience on Still Got Something to Say: 6 Plays on Age was overwhelmingly positive from the artists involved. "As a director in her 70s, I was excited by the theme, and by the cross-section of older playwrights involved. Love stories about the old are rare," said Lib Spry. For Brian Dooley, "This was an important and timely project and to have the tenacity and wherewithal to realize it successfully, no doubt took patience and sensitivity along with the support and thoughtfulness of the many creatives they skillfully assembled." "Growing older is often not for the faint of heart. It was a worthy and wonderful creative experience to be surrounded by caring and talented individuals. This was a welcome oasis of collaboration that felt nurturing and exciting," affirmed Ellen David. Rahul Varma acknowledged, "The project opened a new door for me; working with inspiring dramaturge-directors, actors and choreographers made me work more creatively. The company's commitment to streaming the works right into audiences' homes is a true blessing. Theatre Ouest End is genuinely an intergenerational company with the intersection of community, professionalism, and production creativity; an unmatched addition to the theatre ecology of our city."

Theatre Ouest End was founded in 2019 by Ann Lambert, Laura Mitchell, Alice Abracen and Danielle Szydlowski, who were later joined by Anissah Vanhorn and Ayesha Hasan. The company was created to bring together a community of both experienced and emerging theatre artists to offer new work to people whose access to theatre is challenged by limited income, mobility, opportunity, or the perception that theatre is really about and for someone else. It was also formed in the belief that everyone needs to tell a story... everyone wants to be seen and heard. Please visit their website for information about their ongoing events and workshops.

Over 30 lauded theatre artists collaborated on the project including, among others, playwrights Jane Gilchrist, Debra Kirshenbaum, Ann Lambert, Kent Stetson, Judith Thompson and Rahul Varma; directors Zach Fraser, Murdoch Schon and Lib Spry; actors Vicky Barkoff, Ryan Bommarito, Clare Coulter, Ellen David, Brian Dooley, Marcel Jeannin, Debra Kirshenbaum, Laura Mitchell, Ronica Sanjani, Ivan Smith and Anissah Vanhorn; and videographers from Beanduck Productions.

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