I don’t feel old. In fact I don’t feel any different to when I was in my twenties – well maybe a bit smarter and more willing to question the world.
BUT – as a playwright trying to make my mark on the industry in my fifties I feel truly ancient as there are so many opportunities which are for Young Writers usually under 25.
Which would be fine if those opportunities had been there for me when I was 25, but they weren’t. I come from a very non-arts background and it took me years to find my way into drama school. Then when I realized that writing was what I wanted to do I set up my own company and very quickly was commissioned to write over 30 plays that have been seen by over half a million people. But they were educational theatre, and paid me a much needed wage until I reached a point of security where I was able to start my push towards writing for theatre.
And I’ve done OK, self-producing with Arts Council support. But now I’ve hit a wall, and I’m banging my head against it trying to find support to move to the next level.
There are a few amazing people out there who have given me support, but I still see a strong push to support Young Writers everywhere, as if at my age I should know all there is to know. But I don’t.
I wonder if there’s an issue with the fact that some of the people I need help from are younger than me. I don’t have a problem asking for help from anyone who has knowledge that I don’t, but I wonder if people feel more comfortable supporting people younger than themselves?
I feel like I’m fighting against the saying, ‘You can’t teach an old dog new tricks’ – but sod that! I am hungrier now to gain new skills and to access new knowledge than ever before. And that is I suppose in part because of my age. I am aware of the number of years I might have left to achieve things in – which I was blissfully ignorant of when I was 25.
So apparently age does matter – it makes me hungrier than ever to achieve amazing things, but it also makes it much harder for people to see me as worthy of support.
It feels like ageism is the last acceptable prejudice, but I’m willing to be convinced otherwise.