Workshops with older people, which concentrated on the theme “There’s More To Me!” were held throughout 2016 and culminated in the reading of the first draft of the play The Wisdom Club in 2017 at Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds, Derby Playhouse and RADA London in April 2017.
‘It has been very enjoyable. Not only makes us think of things from the past but things in the present. It has been a wonderful group experience.‘
Violet (92), Workshop Participant
Danusia Iwaszko, Associate Artist (playwright) held workshops at Age UK day centres and at Theatre Royal which became known as “The Wisdom Club”. The expressed purpose of the workshops was an exploration of what it is to be elderly today and the groups had a range of ages from 60 – 92 and a mix of social classes. One man said: ‘Nobody ever asks us our opinions about ‘now’‘. Thus the workshops emerged and debates ranged from Brexit to sex, from portrayal of the elderly in the media to dealing with bereavement and the loss of friends and family. At times it was very moving and at times very funny. These workshops also formed the research for Danusia to start the writing of a full length play which conveys how it is to be old in 2017. All the participants expressed a huge sense of pride being part of the play’s development and increased insight into the craft of writing, whilst Theatre Royal became a home for many participants.
‘I really enjoyed the workshops this year. Thanks for the fun. I remembered poems I had learnt at school, who would believe they are still in your mind after 80 years!‘
Ernie (89), Workshop Participant
The Wisdom Club by Danusia Iwaszko opened at Theatre Royal in 2019 with a fantastic cast of Liz Crowther, Souad Faress, Jon Branwell and Carol Starks directed by Roger Haines and is due to tour in 2021. Today, Theatre Royal continues to run a regular workshop programme, Act Your Age, to continue its work with older people and performs both here at the theatre and at festivals and events.
‘Hilarious, uplifting and thoroughly human, The Wisdom Club shines a much needed spotlight on the plight of Britain’s ageing population.’
Bury Free Press