Live Age Festival

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Posted on 03 September 2015

Celebrating Creativity in Later Life -
Live Age Festival Returns to North Staffordshire

Thursday 1 – Saturday 3 October 2015

  • 1616: Gareth Somers’ acclaimed one-man romp through Shakespeare’s life
  • Special performance by The Laners, following a UK tour
  • Performance poet, Leah Thorn including her ‘Old Women Rock’ project
  • Royal Exchange, Manchester ‘Company of Elders’ workshop activities
  • Performances by local artists: Peace Through Folk Choir, Clay Chorus, Loudmouth Women, FrontLine Dance, Art Link and New Vic Ages & Stages
  • Music from Mel’s Angels, The Boat Band, Frank Leigh and Penkhull Brass Band
  • Free workshops including a special talk and creative writing workshop on Arthur Berry and LS Lowry
  • Screening of 45 Years: one of the best British films of the year
  • The annual Live Age Symposium on ‘Making an Impact’

This Autumn Live Age Festival returns for a second year, to celebrate creativity in later life across North Staffordshire for three-days from Thursday 1 – Saturday 3 October 2015. A showcase of creative talent, and opportunities for older people to participate in creative activities, this year’s festival includes music, live theatre and dance, performances by local choirs, creative workshops, film screenings, as well as talks by some of the UK’s leading professionals working with older people in creative settings.

The festival, which starts on October 1st and is led by Keele University , coincides with UK Older People’s Day: a national initiative which aims to raise awareness of the achievements and contributions that older people make to our society and tackle negative attitudes and outdated stereotypes.

This year the festival will take place across North Staffordshire with key venues in Leek at Trinity Church and The Roebuck Hotel, in Hanley at Mitchell Arts Centre and Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, and in Stoke-on-Trent at North Staffordshire Film Theatre.

Starting off the festival is a special performance by The Laners at The Roebuck Hotel. Back from a UK Tour Derek Wheeler, Dave Tarry and Clive Brooks bring their harmonies of English traditional folk and shanties. Joined by the Peace Through Folk Choir, audiences will be able to enjoy a relaxed day of singing and Morris dancing, before an evening concert.

Actor and writer Gareth Somers brings his poetic and physical one-man show 1616 to Mitchell Arts Centre (3rd October, 7pm). The performance sees our greatest playwright Shakespeare re-live his own dramatic, grimy and humorous life story, and explores themes of ageing, memory and creativity.

Spoken word poet Leah Thorn performs some of her work including from her ‘Older Women Rock’ project: part of her artist’s residency at the University of Kent and at Canterbury Christchurch University where she has been exploring the impact of sexism and ageism with other women in their sixties.

Workshop highlights include a visit from the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester with their ‘Company of Elders’ delivering a special workshop; a Creative Writing workshop and talk inspired by the exhibition Lowry and Berry: Observers of Urban Life, and well as a workshop and performance by the New Vic Ages and Stages company.

This year’s ‘Live Age Symposium’ focuses on ‘Making an Impact’ and explores the differing ways in which creativity can make an impact on older people’s lives; other generations; and through researchers and practitioners working together. Speakers include festival patron and retired MP Joan Walley, who will be joined by Lorna Warren (Sheffield University) and Nicky Taylor (West Yorkshire Playhouse).

Further highlights throughout the festival will include:

  • Narrative Arts in Care Homes – a chance to experiment with simple techniques to reflect and affirm people’s identities and stimulate conversations for people living in care homes.
  • Borderland Voices, writing workshop, which will link older and younger people through an exchange of letters - revealing attitudes, observations and perhaps prejudice about age.
  • Four Stitches embroidery workshop – designing a sampler inspired by Staffordshire’s rich textile heritage.
  • Performances by Art Link, FrontLine Dance, The Clay Chorus and Loudmouth Women
  • FrontLine dance workshop - introducing movement and confidence for all ages and health conditions
  • Choral workshops with Kate Barfield and Penny Vincent
  • Tea and Jazz with Mel’s Angels - An accomplished songwriter, music writer and broadcaster on national radio, Mel was also the voice of Radio Stoke’s weekly Jazz Show for 19 years.
  • Screenings of Restoke’s The Voyagers; films from Staffordshire Film Archive and a special screening of acclaimed new feature film ’45 Years’
  • Letting in the Light – a drop in photography workshop exploring identity through photographic portraiture
  • B-Arts – leading a workshop which looks at the hidden cultural heritage in food.
  • Documentary theatre workshop inspired by techniques of the late Peter Cheeseman of the New Vic Theatre led by Rob Marsden from Staffordshire University.
  • Performance by The Boat Band who bring their distinctive mix of traditional Cajun, Creole, Caribbean and Cumbrian music.
  • Penkhull Brass Band – part of a traditional ‘family day out at the park’ alongside the Arthur Berry and LS Lowry exhibition
  • Popular Piano music with Frank Leigh
  • Creative play, fooling and improvisation workshop with Gareth Somers.

On the line up for Live Age Festival, Jill Rezzano, Programming Director, commented: “This year’s festival has grown in ambition, with acclaimed performers, musicians and artists of all ages coming together to showcase their work and to inspire others that creativity can be introduced at any stage in life.”

For further press information, please contact

Zoe Papiernik | | 07737 918728

Notes to Editors


This year’s Live Age Festival is funded by Keele University’s Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences Research Office and Keele’s ‘Ageing Initiative’; Stoke-on-Trent City Council; Leek Arts Forum, and Staffordshire Housing Association.

In addition, the Live Age Festival would not be possible without the contributions and support of a range of organisations and individuals offering their time, expertise, creativity, resources and financial backing to the initiative.


Age UK
Art Link
Beth Johnson Foundation
Borderland Voices
EngAGE Stoke-on-Trent
Hullabaloo Arts Collective
Keele University - Centre for Social Gerontology
Letting in the Light
Mitchell Arts Centre
New Vic Theatre
Peace through Folk Choir
Royal Exchange Theatre
Staffordshire Film Archive
Staffordshire University
The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery

About Live Age Festival

The idea for a festival originated through the activities of a research project called ‘Ages and Stages’: a continuing collaboration between Keele University and the New Vic Theatre which began in 2009. Led by Professor Miriam Bernard, ‘Ages and Stages’ was also linked with a partner project based at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, where an annual ‘Creative Age Festival’ has been held since 2008. It was our experiences on the ‘Ages and Stages’ projects, combined with two visits to the Canadian festival in 2011 and 2013, which prompted us to scope out the potential for holding such an event in North Staffordshire. As a result, in the spring of 2014, fourteen organisations came together to plan and put on this area’s first ever ‘Live Age Festival’. Held at the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery and the Mitchell Arts Centre on October 1st and 2nd 2014, the festival celebrated continued creativity in later life and showcased the work and talents of local older people, arts organisations and practitioners across Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire.