Going of Age
A notable similarity in (Western) fictional stories is that our main characters, the protagonists, are mostly young: children, teenagers, young adults, or adults. The older the characters, the less we see of this stage of life depicted in our stories. This applies not only to books but also to TV, movies, and podcasts.
How can we explain this lack of representation of the elderly? Is it ageism? Are we so obsessed with youth, our future, hope, potential, and ability that older characters would inadvertently confront us with the slowness of life; with dependence, loneliness, and impending death? Do we avert our eyes, hearts, and stories from them as a result? And is this only a Western (capitalist) issue?
In this program, three writers look beyond the stereotypes (the wise old person, the angry conservative, the lonely one…). Stereotypes that fuel our fear of aging and death. We ask them to read from existing works or compose new characters. Stories in which aging, being old, plays a role, but in which alongside these familiar vulnerabilities, the life-affirming qualities such as experience, courage, talent, revolutionary strength, dreams, and sexuality also come to the forefront. Because the elderly in our world – potentially all of us, as the ticking clock catches up with us mortals – deserve our hope and imagination too!
Simon(e) van Saarloos will be joining us online from the USA with a keynote.
*There are both Dutch and English readings. Dutch texts are supported with English subtitles.