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Blog No. 20 - Carol Mackintosh

During February and March, many females 65 and over attended Theatrical Storytelling Workshops led by the internationally renowned theatre company Complicité here at the Torch Theatre. They all had stories to tell others. The free workshops were open to all women in the age group and those without prior experience in performing arts were warmly encouraged to join in. We caught up with Carol Mackintosh who attended the workshops.

Hi- I’m Carol Mackintosh and I’ve been coming to the Torch Theatre for over 40 years; as an enthusiastic audience member and as a performer/director with several local companies (most recently with Artistic Licence). I’ve also been a member of the Torch Theatre’s Board of management for over 20 years.

However, my most recent attendance was prompted by a post on Instagram asking “Are you female and over 65? Do you want others to hear your story?
The answer to all these questions was “Yes”, so I signed up for a series of four Theatrical and Storytelling Workshops instigated by the internationally renowned theatre company, Complicité.

After an initial introductory session, the workshops ran for three hours on consecutive Thursdays in March led by Catherine Alexander- a hugely experienced associate director of Complicité.

She explained that two similar series of workshops had been run in London; the starting point. A recent Complicité project, was a play devised from the novel Drive the Plow over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarcurz. The narrative is a bizarre amalgam of murder mystery, feminist comedy, and animal rights protest in which the “heroine “literally gets away with murder (spoiler alert) because she is an old woman that everyone dismisses as a dotty old eccentric. So, the jumping off themes of the workshops were rebellion and invisibility in older women.

We were an eclectic group of a dozen women; three were friends who had signed up together and a few of us knew each other a little. Early in the first session we were set the task of telling our life stories in five minutes and it was wonderful to discover everyone’s varied and unexpected life experiences. After that it was obvious that we were all absolutely up for having a go, letting our imaginations run wild and making new discoveries.

Some of us had some experience of acting and storytelling but others were complete novices. It didn’t matter, Catherine steadily guided us through the processes that Complicité use to devise their work. There were no egos and everyone was incredibly supportive of each other.

If this all sounds a bit worthy and pompous it was the very opposite; there was a lot of laughter, a few tears, and a real sharing of ideas. What struck me about our final session when we “performed“ a series of very short scenes for each other was how funny, poignant, and authentic they were.

After four sessions there was a collective feeling that this had been a positive and unique experience that we would all love to continue. As with so many creative ventures these days, this depends upon a successful grant application but here’s hoping that the rebellious old women will have another chance to get their voices heard.


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