Disrupting Temporalities, Multiplying the Self: An Age-Studies Approach to Two Contemporary Plays
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In our increasingly aged societies, old age continues to be equated with decline (Gullette 2004) and becomes the source of the most invisible yet persistent forms of discrimination, namely, ageism (Butler 1969). Even though theatre, like other artistic forms, has traditionally promoted a negative image of ageing (Mangan 2013), some contemporary plays have begun to favour more complex portrayals of old age. Nevertheless, when considered from a gender-based angle, these portrayals often acquire quite a problematic undertone: while roles for older female actors remain exceptional, many peripheral or, if centred, mainly problematic dramatizations of ageing femininity in the theatre arena fuel age prejudice against older women on and off stage. This article offers an age-focused analysis of two plays that counteract stereotypical images of female ageing through various dramaturgical strategies: Michel Tremblay's Albertine in Five Times (1984) and Matt Hartley's Here I Belong (2016). Through a comparative analysis of the Naturalistic and Non-Naturalistic devices employed in the two plays, and the examination of the meanings of age generated by the characterization of the two female protagonists, we hope to demonstrate that Tremblay's and Hartley's texts contribute to creating a truly anti-ageist theatre while at the same time enhancing the visibility of the older woman on the stage.