Older age is sometimes a lonely place, and for that reason it can be consoling and rewarding to return to earlier reaches, filling gaps, refreshing memories, reinterpreting and discovering both old and new perspectives. Not just nostalgia for nostalgia’s sake. For more than 2 years now Salisbury Playhouse has been vigorously exploiting the rich resource constituted by the older segment of Wilshire’s population. In what might be seen as a counterpart to the long-established and wildly successful Stage65 theatre group for young people, it has drawn together a band of performance enthusiasts, aged 55 and above, bent on exploring that elusive, mysterious gap between then and now.
Working always within an integrating theme – currently The 1960s – members of the Mind the Gap team are able to choose between a variety of exercises led by professional specialists in the disciplines of theatre training. Recent programme ingredients have included mime, dance, drumming, language as gesture, speaking Shakespeare and archiving as an input to verbatim drama. Most recently Mind the Gappers (we have to call ourselves something!) have been learning how to conduct the recorded interviews that form the basis of Wiltshire’s priceless aural history.
Newcomers – and all are welcome at any time provided they’re past 55 – encounter a motley, fun-loving and gifted pack of people from different backgrounds who are visibly discovering a strong feeling of group identity, and within that perhaps also a restored sense of personal identity. We could do with a few more men though.
Some-one loves us; an anonymous donor has just awarded Mind the Gap £10,000 for another year’s endeavour. And of course we love ourselves.