Creative theatre workshops in Sussex are transforming the lives of older people

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Creative workshops in Shoreham are transforming the lives of older people by involving them in theatre, playfulness and fun.

Age is a Stage was founded by Chris Cresswell, who is passionate about making a difference people in Sussex aged 50 and over, using theatre.

No experience is necessary to join the weekly drop-in workshops at the Ropetackle Arts Centre in Shoreham and take part in a mixture of theatre skills, comedy, improvisation games and general silliness.

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Chris says it is all too easy to forget to have fun, and being playful can boost confidence, as well as combat low mood and loneliness in later life.

Age is a Stage founder Chris Cresswell with a group at Ropetackle Arts Centre in ShorehamAge is a Stage founder Chris Cresswell with a group at Ropetackle Arts Centre in Shoreham
Age is a Stage founder Chris Cresswell with a group at Ropetackle Arts Centre in Shoreham

He added: "I feel drama is important for older adults because it gives them a chance to contact their inner child, and to rediscover the joy of play and of using their imagination. It gives them permission to explore aspects of themselves that they might normally keep hidden.

"The thing I enjoy most about what we do is when people tell me what a difference Age is a Stage has made to their lives. I love to inspire people to go beyond their normal."

Chris has been teaching and performing in theatre, cabaret circus and film for more than 40 years. He is passionate about promoting the important role that comedy and theatre skills can play in healthy ageing and combatting loneliness.

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By showcasing positive activities for older people, Age is a Stage aims to create an environment where older generations are shown to be thriving and where ageing well becomes the norm rather than the exception.

Age is a Stage founder Chris Cresswell with a group at Ropetackle Arts Centre in ShorehamAge is a Stage founder Chris Cresswell with a group at Ropetackle Arts Centre in Shoreham
Age is a Stage founder Chris Cresswell with a group at Ropetackle Arts Centre in Shoreham

Chris said: "It’s great to see participants gain in confidence, particularly in public speaking or in everyday interactions. We’re addressing issues of loneliness and isolation, as well as creating communities for people who may have lost friends and partners and are struggling to reach out for new connections."

People in class have said it is better than therapy! They also find it inspiring, helping them to find themselves again after giving up a career.

Shoreham classes are £10 and take place 10.30am to 12pm on Tuesdays. There are also classes at the Theatre Royal in Brighton on Fridays at 11am, £10.50 in advance or on the door. Visit ageisastage.co.uk for more information.

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Building on the success of the weekly workshops, Age is a Stage is developing a new show for 2024, The Insurrection Shuffle. It will take place at the BOSCO Theater at the Spiegeltent in Brighton on May 9 and 30. It promises to be crammed with comedy sketches mixed with mirth and mayhem.

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