A cultural festival this fall in London — “Age Against the Machine” — wants to prove that aging doesn’t have to mean growing too old, giving up or even slowing down.
From frank theater performances about death to advice on throwing a cocktail party in a senior care home, the Festival of Creative Aging in London’s borough of Lewisham will feature dozens of shows, workshops, exhibits and talks to challenge views and attitudes about growing old.
“It will spark debate, challenge perceptions, champion older artists and celebrate the positive impact of creativity on our lives as we get older,” said Lewisham Mayor Damien Egan.
Among the offerings, an ensemble group Tangled Feet will perform “Half Life,” with a cast ranging from 10- to 80-year-olds questioning how time passes and how aging changes us.
The darkly humored play “Die! Die! Die! Old People Die!” will be set in a future where 120-year-olds are blessed with eternal life — but not eternal youth.
Pop-up performances of “Bed” will feature older people, seemingly abandoned in beds, sharing stories of isolation.
Classical music performances are planned in relaxed environments designed to include people with autism, dementia and sensory impairment, and a number of events will be staged in local senior care homes, making the festival accessible to those who cannot venture out.
A death café will be set up, serving fine teas, aiming to spark conversations about the taboo subject, while a structured philosophical debate will examine assumptions about old age, address how society looks at aging and how words like “elderly,” “old” and “age” are used.
The session on hold a cocktail party in a senior care home will discuss how to handle guests with dementia.
Also on the practical side, a workshop and talk are planned on how to make homes and workplaces dementia-friendly, and a discussion will be held on navigating the bureaucracy of the social care system.
The festival was made possible by a £216,000 ($272,000 U.S.) award by the Mayor of London’s Borough of Culture.