• Frontier Theatre Aims to Give Older Performers The Chance To Shine



    Age is a barrier in the arts. It’s a widely acknowledged fact that there is a severe lack of roles out there for performers who are considered ‘older’, especially actresses.

    James Roose-Evans, who founded the Hampstead Theatre back in 1959, is seeking to break down that age barrier with the launch of his new company, Frontier Theatre.

    He’s already secured the backing of several high-profile older actors too, with Sir Ian McKellan, Dame Judy Dench, Vanessa Redgrave and Mike Leigh all becoming patrons.

    “There is a huge bank of actors in their 60s, 70s and into their 80s who become invisible, particularly actresses,” Roose-Evans told The Independent. “Their talent is being wasted. This set me thinking: ‘What can I do?’”

    Whilst his well-known backers might help out with leading a few workshops, they will not be performing with the company. Mr Roose-Evans stresses that Frontier Theatre is being set up in order to re-establish performers who have been unable to find work because of their age, and to give them a chance to take centre stage once more.

    As he points out: “People like Judy and Ian are hardly short of work.”

    “I think the lack of roles for older actors is to do with society’s attitude towards ageing and not realising older people have a lot to give.”

    “People are living longer, and more creatively. Reading media reports you would think ageing is just about dementia or Alzheimer’s, about the dark side. But there are some wonderful stories of rich creativity.”

    The company has taken three years to establish but now they’re up and running and they  have their initial 12 month programme in place.

    First up is a double bill of Spring and Winter by Susan Hill, to be followed by two Strindberg plays which will be staged at the Jermyn Street theatre. Also included in the initial season will be Beckett’s Come and Go– a play usually performed by three older actresses. However, Frontier Theatre have been granted permission by the Beckett estate to adapt it for nine women to perform.

    The company will be based at 6 Fredrick’s Place in East London for the next 18 months, after they were loaned the building by The Mercer’s Livery Company. It is next door to Mercers’ Hall which has a 60-seater chamber theatre.

    Frontier admit that their first programme is “very modest,” but “We hope to get to a point where we can tour and give work to more actors.”

    Seasoned performers have much to teach younger actors and actresses as well as a wealth of experience to bring to each role. How wonderful that this is being embraced. Here’s hoping Frontier Theatre goes from strength to strength.

    For more information, visit the Frontier Theatre company website.

    Categories: Theatres


    Leave a Reply