Getting older can be daunting, but it doesn’t mean you have to hang up your hat on life when hitting a certain age.
James Roose-Evans had that in mind when launching The Frontier Theatre, which kicked off its inaugural season this week (June 18), with the aid of patrons Dame Judi Dench, Sir Ian McKellen, along with Vanessa Redgrave and Mike Leigh, reports What’s On Stage.
The production company is geared toward older actors who Roose-Evans believes “become invisible,” their talent wasted, which he talked about in an interview with The Independent. He refers to this stage in life as the “Fourth Age,” when people enter their twilight years and begin to fall off or become hidden from society, as mentioned on the company’s website.
Dench, who worked with Roose-Evans at Hampstead Theatre earlier in her career, isn’t so keen on aging, but she realizes there’s no way around it. In a 2012 interview with an Australian broadcaster about her film The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, the interviewer said, “Many in the movie process seem to have completely denied the aging process, but you’ve seemed to have embraced it.” She jokingly responds, “Oh, no! Oh, no Chris, I don’t embrace aging at all. I think it’s hideous.” But on a more serious note, she explains in the below clip, “I don’t let the word ‘old’ happen in my house.”
Sure, Dench may have her choice of roles, but that’s not the case for all actors out there. With her and the other patrons’ support, the new theater provides a house for other actors in their later years to showcase their work.
The London-based company’s website elaborates on their mission, saying, “The theatre and the Fourth Age is something that is increasingly talked about. At Frontier we wholeheartedly believe in the creativity and professional benefits of being in, and learning from those who are in, the Fourth Age.”
The plan is to give voice to older actors and show others that life is still vibrant and exciting at a later age.
Roose-Evans, now 87, established the Hampstead Theatre in 1959 where he worked with Dench, McKellen, Redgrave, and Leigh. In addition to founding the two theaters, Roose-Evans is known for adapting Helene Hanff’s novel 84 Charing Cross Road into a play and producing Noël Coward’s Private Lives for the stage.
Frontier Theatre’s first season will include a production of Samuel Beckett’s short play Come and Go and Spring and Winter by Susan Hill.
In addition to productions, the theater offers workshops like Storytelling for Actors and Writers and The Art of Comedy.
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