This Friday 01 October is International Day of Older Persons so we’re delighted to introduce you to our brand new 2021/22 Elders Company. The new Company (pictured above) includes 19 people, aged 60-82, who come from all across Greater Manchester and beyond. Members have a range of experiences, some who have joined in with theatre and drama activities before, while others are taking part for the first time.

At the heart of the Company is the idea, ‘everyone is an artist.’ Being part of the Company builds people’s confidence and social connections. Through creative endeavour the Royal Exchange Elders also challenge negative stereotypes around ageing and combat ageism.

The Company will now embark on a series of creative projects together throughout the coming year. During this time, they will develop as an ensemble, learn more about how we make theatre here at the Royal Exchange and take part in intergenerational workshops with our Young Company.

Company member, Ann Sarge said upon joining the Company:
“I absolutely enjoyed yesterday. I feel so proud of me. When I am in a group, I usually stay quiet and observe. Yesterday, I felt confident, safe, connected and was able to express myself.”

Elders Programme Producer, Andy Barry said:
“Recruiting a new Company as we were coming out of the various lockdowns wasn’t without its challenges, but I’m so pleased to be welcoming a brand new group of older people to the Royal Exchange Theatre in person, to begin a creative journey with us. They are a fantastic group of people who in the few sessions we’ve had already, have shown a generous and playful spirit. I can’t wait to see what we achieve together.”

The Royal Exchange Theatre continue to work with Graduates of the Company who now take part by joining special projects throughout the year. Others volunteer as Elders Leaders. The Leaders help develop the programme of activities, lead events and champion the Company. During the Lockdown the RX Elders Graduates had huge success running their own activities, including making films and publishing their own poetry anthology about life in lockdown. Earlier this year, the Elders Graduates won an inaugral Manchester Adult Education and Skills Group Learning Award.

Andy Barry added:
“Now it is seventh year, I feel the Elders just continues to go from strength to strength. We are building a connected community of older artists who want to stretch themselves creatively as well as have fun and make new friends. The last year has been incredibly challenging, which makes recruiting a brand new Company of people feel even sweeter and I’m excited for them as they start their journey with us.“

If you are interested in becoming involved in the Elders, the first step is to take part in one of our Elders Monday sessions.