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Discourses We Live By

Hazel R. Wright
Marianne Høyen

VI. Discourses to support diversity: projects that empower

24. UK Senior Citizens Learn Filmmaking as a Creative Pathway to Reflection and Fulfilment

Teresa Brayshaw et Jenny Granville


Teresa Brayshaw and Jenny Granville offer a non-conventional treatment of a project that supports seniors to engage in collaborative film making. Their performative approach is fairly radical and, in keeping with this, the chapter is multi-faceted. It includes a transcript of the film and its QR code to enable you to view it yourself, feedback from viewers, elements from a conference presentation and selections from the email exchanges between and among editors and academics that illustrate the difficulties when different views collide.

Texte intégral

‘Never to get lost is not to live, not to know how to get lost brings you to destruction, and somewhere in the terra incognita in between lies a life of discovery’. (Rebecca Solnit)


Hi Teresa, we’ve been asked to contribute a chapter to a book based upon our research and the Senior Moments Performance we presented in Copenhagen.


Brilliant Jenny — but we only have a performance script and that’s not really going to tell our story or communicate how we make practice as research.


Yes, you’re right. We need to think about capturing liveness on the page — should we make a film instead? We could send them a QR code…


2Editors: ‘Your Film is lovely… but we really need a paper too!’

3We set out to find ‘the terra incognita in between’, our writing processes mirroring those we use in filmmaking — but first the context!


4In the spirit of creativity and compromise a text is created to re-interpret a visual and auditory experience into a verbal and readable format that challenges the common conventions around what constitutes a book chapter. Rather than offer a single narrative account, the chapter is poly-vocal — episodic in structure — gathering together multiple evidences to reveal, and emulate, the collaborative processes and provocations in both filmmaking and chapter-writing. The idea here is to offer the reader an experience that mirrors the critical and creative multi-modal process we, the researchers, used in the making and disseminating of our work. The ten stages of ‘production’ in this book chapter include overviews of the ‘Senior Moments’ presentations and the ‘Cinage’ (a blend of cinema and ageing) project which led to their creation; feedback from academics who have seen versions of the research in live and mediated forms that capture the audience reaction; some of the email exchange with the editors of this book to give a taste of the difficulties in crossing research borders; the lead up to the creative process; a QR code for the film itself and an annotated description of the script; which together capture many of the research questions and methodologies employed in the development of the project, and makes our actions properly visible. As a coda we look back on the experience and forward to future plans and point out the sources that influenced our work.

The PITCH: Presenting Senior Moments

5Our research project comprises the creation of a body of work under the name of CINAGE, addressing ageing as a felt experience, narratives of loss, the telling of personal stories by older people through the creative practice of scriptwriting and filmmaking and the challenges of designing intergenerational learning spaces within a UK university context. The research outcomes of this project, and the dissemination of the practice as research, have been delivered variously through performative lectures, letters, conference papers, journal articles, film screenings and live performances.

  • 1 Different versions of the research process have been presented under the title of Senior Moments: R (...)

6The live papers entitled Senior Moments — Reflections on the Cinage Project, have been presented at a number of international conference and festival contexts, in the form of tightly structured, but seemingly spontaneous, performative conversations.1 These performances presented in sometimes very formal academic contexts have served to find new ways to foreground practice as research, to propose different models of reader engagement with research processes and to play with the ‘performer/audience’ possibilities inherent in the live contexts through a disruption of the usual conventions of conference presentations.

SYNOPSIS: What is the CINAGE Project?

7It is a research project initially funded by The European Commission’s Grundtvig Lifelong Learning programme as a response to the huge increase in the number of older people in Europe, brought about by the success of public health policies and socio-economic development. The pilot project, in 2014–2015, involved four partner countries — the UK, Italy, Slovenia and Portugal. Originally composed of interlinked activities, engaging older people with critical analysis of European cinema and practical filmmaking experience, CINAGE at Leeds Beckett University has further developed the methodology by exploring autobiographical narrative filmmaking and memory, as central storytelling techniques. CINAGE also forms part of the lifelong learning process by enabling active ageing through learning new skills and working not only with senior learners, but intergenerationally.

8The success of the pilot led us, in the School of Film, Music and Performing Arts, to open up to further cohorts of CINAGE in 2015/16 and 2016/17 and, in 2017, the introduction of ‘CINAGE: Live’, a brand new pilot course offering over 60s the opportunity to devise, develop and perform a contemporary piece of theatre that addressed issues at the heart of their lives. CINAGE has also led to Leeds Beckett University becoming established as the first Age Friendly University in England and has acted as a springboard for a number of graduating participants continuing their filmmaking learning journeys, including two CINAGE alumni studying on our MA Documentary programme, another CINAGE student on our MA Filmmaking programme and yet another studying for his PhD. CINAGE demonstrates lifelong learning in content and in practice.

REVIEWS: The Essence of CINAGE, Captured in Audience Feedback

9Audiences who have seen us present our material have been perturbed and made to think anew, so we have included some of their written feedback to help you, the current reader, to better grasp the nature of our work. We offer several examples below.

From Professor Rob Evans, Magdeburg University, Germany after the ESREA (European Society for Research on the Education of Adults) Life Histories and Biography Network Conference: ‘Discourses We Live By’, Copenhagen, March 2017:

10I have had the pleasure and the privilege to watch Teresa and Jenny in action twice and it has been an interesting experience, and one wholly out of the ordinary — at least (and this is the important bit) in spaces where the model of communication and interaction is certainly more staid, more ‘measured’, more predictable.

11Teresa and Jenny’s dialogued presentation succeeds by applying something of a V-effect that persistently subverts the measured scientific discourse model of the presentation by allowing personal, intimate, immediate asides and conversation to break into the content. Their paced, tense, unsettling dialogue shifts between a more distancing account of their research and their irruptions of irreverence, candour and vulnerability.

12Teresa and Jenny, in this adaptable performance (I noted the practical and theoretical nuances worked into the two performances before two different researcher audiences) took their audience by surprise, unsettled and challenged them. The first time around, in Poland, I was taken aback when they started; taken by surprise by their back-and-forth worried, worrying dialogue of uncertainty and diffidence. There is something wrong, I thought, and saw that (and felt strongly) the rest of the room was on the verge of shifting uncomfortably on their seats, waiting for a rescue, some safe exit from this seemingly wrong-stepped beginning as the two of them questioned each other’s readiness and ability to carry on at all. As it dawned on me that this was being performed and that this was turning into their theme — being and getting lost, finding oneself perhaps — unease was instantly replaced by appreciation and increasing involvement.

13The plot is a provocation, intriguing and involving. Solidly founded in impressive practice, at an artisanal level of skill that strikes the listener/ watcher immediately — these are skilful performers acting with obvious and infectious commitment — and with clear and equally convincing, challenging theoretical grounding. This is an emotional experience. This is a challenging experience. You come out of it ready to talk, to debate, laugh and cry. All at once, if possible.

From Jayne Raisborough, Professor of Media, Leeds Beckett University, UK at the ‘LeBeMe’, Leeds Beckett Interdisciplinary Media Research Conference, January 2017:

14Just settling into my conference-ready mode — leaning back in my chair, pen idling in my hand, mind gently gazing and then — what the heck was happening? Feeling bit awkward, feeling panic of the loss I think I see in front of me. Should I intervene? Should the chair? Pen thrown down, sitting up, anxious, awkward and then — thank god! Warmth, comfort, humour and a layering of complexity and richness blankets the room. This isn’t a paper to take notes from, this is a paper that flicks the senses, gets the nerves jangling and reminds me of the very real material and affective dimensions of age.

From Dr Lynne Hibberd School of Cultural Studies, Leeds Beckett University, UK:

15The most interesting thing about this session was the way it was delivered, as a scripted but seemingly spontaneous discussion. This made it feel really alive and discursive (rather than a ‘finished’ piece of research which always feels a bit definite, fixed and authoritative), also emotionally vibrant (researchers as real people with feelings rather than detached objective observers or facilitators), and like a starting point. I loved it.

From Mike Spence, New Technologist and Games Designer at ELOA (Network on Education and learning of Older Adults) Conference: Ageing in A Multi-Cultural World — individual and social contexts of learning, Wroclaw Poland, 2016:

16The biggest hook to this brave maverick performance of research is the elegant ease in which Jenny and Teresa segued an improvisation into the presentation from the status quo. It beautifully confounded the audience into questioning if the presentation had started at all. Is this a mistake? Should someone intervene? The audience is asking themselves questions and shuffling uneasily in their seats when the research team hits them with a smooth, swift delivery of conventional backstory and reference to legitimize the free direction the performers can take to artistically, articulately and elegantly delivering powerful messages for the reviewers to take away with them. It certainly gave me confidence in using fictional narrative to illustrate scientific data in a dynamic method.

DEVELOPMENT: The Process of CINAGE, Captured in the 2017 ESREA Conference Presentation


‘Taking back the meaning of being lost in creative practice and Higher Education is really important — it’s a political act, that we as academics and practitioners are reclaiming in this project — maybe in order to feel at home in ourselves?’


The formal name for the project is Cinage — cinema for active ageing, but those of us running it used the shorthand of ‘teaching filmmaking to old people’! The goals were to find ways to get older people to learn. The actual outcome of this project was a series of short films but the real learning was in facing up to the realities of ageing as a felt experience. We started by asking them to describe their experience of ageing… So, then our job was to find a way to expand the question of ageing to encompass autobiographical stories as a field of creative possibilities rather than an experience of deficiency and loss.


I worked in exactly the same way as I work with undergraduate, MA and PhD students — with a series of proposals and exercises which I know from experience, will develop creative encounters encouraging risk-taking, problem-solving, personal discovery, failure, flexibility and fun.

  • 2 ‘An educational method focusing on learning and movement, which can bring about improved movement a (...)

17As a Feldenkrais2 practitioner I understand that in order for any and all learning to take place — novelty and curiosity have to be excited in the nervous system. I taught the group some Awareness through Movement lessons.

18I was surprised by the openness of the group to try things out — to have a go — to play without the usual anxiety around meaning and end-gaining that is now so prevalent throughout undergraduate educational contexts. Of course, the levels of experience and expertise in the group were tremendous but nevertheless — I was particularly impressed by the quality of engagement in the proposal made which directly addressed the questions of ‘where am I now?’, ‘where am I going?’, ‘where have I been?’.

19Letter to Cinage Students: In creative practice, we are very accustomed to material and ideas and interventions emerging from live encounters, which involve people moving and working in the moment. We are trained in and trust the opportunities that present themselves when improvising — which is in truth the art of ‘making it up as you go along’. This practice of being in a place of uncertainty is also a constant reminder that ‘not knowing’ and ‘being lost’ are parts of any narrative process and I welcome both with open arms.

20I know that the ‘letters to your 16-year-old selves’ are a way of accessing an approach to autobiographical writing, which connects you to previous, and future versions of yourselves and others.

21I also know that outcomes are only part of any learning and growing process, and that the experiences of being in the moment, of getting into flow, of playing around and of putting oneself in the environment where novelty and discovery abound, enables us to connect to different versions of our present self. A self that is flexible, open to changing direction and persuasion and position (physically, intellectually, emotionally, perceptually) and also a self that finds pleasure in an embodied understanding of the differences between a ‘human doing’ and a ‘human being’.

22Those spaces, wherever we find them, that enable us to connect with ourselves and others in ways that take us away from our habits offer the potential for us to develop new movements in our brain, in our physiology, in our experiences, in our memories and also in our imaginations.

DEVELOPMENT HELL: Finding a Modus Vivendi for Publication (the Hard Bit), Email Exchanges Between Editors and Authors

Authors to Editors (22/01/18)

23Hi Marianne and Hazel,

24I am excited to send you, via WeTransfer, the first draft of our ‘chapter’, which is, in fact, a film based on the paper/presentation that we delivered in Copenhagen.

25Given the slightly experimental and performative nature of our paper, we wanted to mirror that in the way we present the material and have been experimenting with the form (film) being used to reflect the content (older people making films and our response as researchers). We are proposing that when the reader turns to our chapter in the book — entitled ‘Senior Moments; Reflection on the CINAGE project’ — instead of text, they will find a QR code (or URL). This will take them to the short film I am sending you below.

26I do hope that this experimental format will be something you feel able to embrace. Please do let us know your thoughts as soon as possible so we can make adjustments if necessary.

27With all good wishes,

28Jenny and Teresa

Editor to Editor:

Ed 1

Can we do that?

Ed 2

Difficult I think! The publisher is expecting a normal book not alternative media — Why can’t they just write a normal paper!
Hmm! Will have to think about this…

Ed 2

… So sorry to have sounded off. I have managed to download and watch the film which is lovely but not enough alone.

Editor to Authors (22/01/18)

29Dear Jenny and Teresa

30Your film is lovely and it would be great to put an URL (and a QR if we can) in the book but we really need a paper too as our commitment to the publisher is for a 6–7000 word text that explores some of the discourses that you are examining in your work. This is what we suggest in our editorial role:

  • That you include a complete (but annotated to explain significant visuals) transcript — perhaps with a cast list to explain the key characters including yourselves and with added scenic descriptors and reference to the publications you display.

  • That this starts with a brief overview of the discourses around ageing in Western society: the early view that learning capacity disappeared and brain power declined with age; the trend of treating the elderly as a ‘drain’ on society, a medical and social problem and institutionalizing them; the more recent view supported by scanning, etc. that active engagement staves off even prevents dementia and any others you see appropriate.

  • We assume that you have the sources for this to hand (surely the books were more than props!) — but shout if not — Hazel has vague recollections of teaching an Education and Ageing Society course and might be able dig out some material if that would help.

  • That you set the really interesting ideas you have about all-age universities and real educational experiences that your work supports against a brief overview of contemporary educational discourse: the dominant outcomes-based educational ideologies and also the decimation of adult education, dire this millennium (again do you have material to hand?).

31Would this work for you? We hope so!

32BW, Marianne and Hazel

Author to Author (22/01/18)

33Hi Jenny

34I think unfortunately there is a real misunderstanding of our work and the forms we work and communicate in here. I think, in the kindest possible way, we extricate ourselves from this project given the amount of publications we are involved with (my own book is nearing completion) and apologize to Hazel and Marianne for this miscommunication. I honestly thought that given the feedback on our paper in situ that there was an understanding of what we were about — but neither of these two saw the paper — and clearly think that the books are ‘props’ and that we have chosen to present in this form because we cannot write in an academic way. Let’s focus our energy upon what is actually important — and live the discourses — what say you?

35Alternatively — we could do as they ask — and in the process DIE! Teresa

Retrospective Editorial comment (01/07/18)

36It was more a case of ‘we want your contribution as your work so clearly challenges normative discourses but are not sure you have the time, energy, inclination to add some of the more mundane stuff that is traditionally expected in a book chapter’. We were hinting that we would do some of this work to secure the contribution, if necessary, trying NOT to sound patronizing — we failed — probably should have just said this outright!!

Author to Editor (25/01/18)

37Hi Hazel and Marianne,

38We think that, unfortunately, there is a real misunderstanding of our work and the forms we work and communicate in. We are primarily ‘practitioners’ who, whilst working on topics that are alive in academia such as ‘discourses we live by’ and ‘active ageing’, choose to investigate them as part of our overarching research question, which is how to remain practitioners and present our work and outcomes in a form which reflects our research techniques and process.

39Our ‘paper’ was deliberately constructed as a ‘live’ performative encounter — and you can see from the attached feedback to various versions of this — that the ‘learning’ and ‘impact’ of what we perform prioritizes the form over the content. The knowledges and research that we are interested in are often embodied and tacit (know how). They sometimes swim against the often-dominant cultural tides, which position explicit knowledge (know what), certainty, goal setting and achievement as markers of excellence. This is why we spent a lot of time making this film.

40Of course, this is a currently massive debate in the area of the arts and the Academy with the development of practice-based PhDs. In the USA this argument has long been over with the introduction of the MFA [Master of Fine Arts] — which recognizes the practice as the research with its own place in the Academy. That is why we specifically chose to present in this way — not because we cannot or do not want to write an academic treatise, but because we have to develop our practical and applied research methodologies.

41Your suggestion that we explain our research in writing with introduction, contextualization etc., is something that we do not want to do since our work is practice as research and this would reduce and sideline our practice and research to illustration within a logocentric discourse. We feel that elements you suggest, such as ‘… really interesting ideas you have about all-age universities and real educational experiences that your work supports… ’ are adequately expressed and explored in the film and do not need covering again, in text.

42We would, though, be happy to complete your suggestion that we include an annotated version of our presentation/script… and a full bibliography of the publications referred to and displayed.

43If you do not feel that the film, plus annotated version, is sufficient or appropriate for your book, then although we are really very sorry to let you down, we will have to withdraw from the project.

44We look forward to hearing from you,

45With all good wishes,

46Jenny and Teresa

Editor to Editor:

47This might work…

Editors to Authors (25/01/18)

48Hi Jennifer and Teresa

49We hear what you are saying and think that your suggestion may work — please just give us a little time to look at the elements together in more detail.

50Certainly, it was not our intention to reject your methods — merely to suggest something that seemed more viable after watching the film, as we did not think our publisher would accept a QR code alone.

51Perhaps one question we will be asked is where the film is stored, and can you guarantee that it would be available to readers for the lifetime of the book? (This may not be a concern but it would be good to know about this before we talk with the publisher more formally later in the process of publication). So, could you give us this information please (or explain how it works!). And the transcript when available.

52Remember that we are not as accustomed to your way of working as you are (so have to negotiate and ask questions!) but this does not mean we are not interested or supportive. We were very keen to have the workshop at the conference because it is ‘different’ from the normative papers and stimulating… and forward-looking! You are disrupting discourses (on ageing, education and academic publishing probably!) and we DO want that — just not sure quite how to cope with it!

53Simply, we have to make sure this will all work and meet everyone’s needs and expectations, so we are glad that you have come back to us with a compromise solution that may do this. Will be in touch again when we have had time to think further (or if we have more questions!)

54Meanwhile, all the best,

55Marianne and Hazel

Author to Author (25/01/18)

56Wow! Result (of sorts)


Author to Editors (06/02/18)

58Hello Marianne and Hazel

59Sorry to have delayed replying… Teresa and I have talked and think we have a plan! We are teaching and in meetings all day today, so I will write to you further tonight with some details of what we are thinking and see whether you think it could work

60With all good wishes


Editors to Authors (19/02/18)

62Dear Teresa and Jenny

63Have now had time to think constructively and collate all the material we have from and about you.

64Would you accept a series of edited ‘snapshots’ from the email exchanges as an introduction to your material: paper, annotated script and bibliography?

65This would explain what you are about, and your need to persuade a traditional audience (us!) to think afresh without being the kind of didactic introduction that you dislike (we think… hope!) so prepares the reader for what comes next.

66Does this take us forward? Or at least keep the door ajar for further discussion?

67We hope so!

68Best wishes,

69Marianne and Hazel

Author to Editors (19/02/18)

70Hi Marianne and Hazel.

71I haven’t spoken to Jenny about this but think it’s actually really interesting. We should of course in the spirit of transparency also send you (maybe?) the email correspondence J and I had in response to your ‘perhaps you could actually write a paper! After all the books are surely more than props! ’ email, before Jenny sent the final version, so that the ‘emotional’ exchange so prevalent in all our attempts to make this work is as present as it can be to the reader/audience. I’ll see if there is anything useful here — I’m hopefully seeing Jen tomorrow so will hear her view then — in the meantime genuine thanks for propping that door!



PRODUCTION: Psyching up for Performance

74T: Right Jenny are you ready?

75J: Yes — I AM — I’m ready

76T: I’m not

77J: What do you mean — you’re here, I’m here, they’re here — let’s go

78T: Go where Jenny — I’m lost

79J: I don’t know — let’s work it out as we go along

80T: What you mean improvise?

81J: Yes — you’re a performer, a theatre maker — you’re trained in the art of making things up as you go along.

82T: And you’re a film maker, and over 60 — so are well placed to understand how to age well and understand that life stories and autobiographies are too often taken for granted.

83J: So — let’s begin by remembering what is important, what has been important on this project — by telling our personal stories, because if we know anything it’s that in studies exploring ageing and senescing and gerontology — that personal narratives of ‘living in time’ remain unexplored.

84T: Ok — what has our current practice of making film and performance with people over 65 got to do with discourses we live by?

85J: If we know anything from our experience as teachers in Higher Education of students of all ages and levels — it’s that life stories and autobiographies are too often taken for granted.

86T: Ok — so we know that as researchers on this project there is a need to develop a deeper understanding of what it means to ‘live in time’ — and from that understanding develop an art of ageing — we are narrative practitioners — sharing the importance of narrative practices — and we do have this script that we’re reading now — in fact we’ve got so many versions of it… SHOULD WE START?


87See the film itself @​4775/​ or use the QR code below.

88Allow 13 minutes for viewing.


00: 00–01: 28

89It is a film theory trope that the first scene in a film tells you what the story of the film is. Somehow the writer needs to find a way to encompass the theme and approach during that opening sequence. In working on the basis that the CINAGE film is research, the authors worked to include every element of their creative practice into the body of the work. The use of a vintage TV screen to frame the opening scene is a way of visually, and possibly subliminally, referencing the notion of ‘age’. The screen represents a working object, useful and familiar — but no longer valued except as a curiosity and relegated to something that is ‘out of date’, ‘quaint’, ‘old’. The choice of a vintage TV screen is a creative use of an artefact that is, of course, perfectly serviceable and contributes a unique style and quality, just because it is old. It has much to offer, on its own terms. Thus, we introduce the overarching theme of the CINAGE projects.

90This scene was recorded prior to the writing of the script for the Discourses We Live By, Copenhagen conference. The authors were still researching and deciding their approach and wanted to indicate that out of the many studies of different aspects of gerontology, a mass of terms and ideas have emerged.

91However, grappling with these theories may not be the only way to study and understand the issues and questions they raise. The exchange of terms is an acknowledgement of these approaches and studies, but the playful method of delivery, tells the audience that their research is not going to be defined or restricted to the application of those notions, but rather using these as a frame of reference.

92And, in fact, the authors in their initial scoping exercise, identified a range of additional terms and theories listed below, which, although not directly quoted in this film, provided reference points as the project developed (see next page).

01: 23–01: 27

CINAGE-Lights, Camera, Action

93This is the animated logo used for the CINAGE project films. CINAGE was a Grundtvig multilateral project, supported by the EU Lifelong Learning Programme and was composed of interlinked activities resulting in the production of a learning package, for use by adult educators, and aimed at empowering older people towards achieving a more active ageing. All twelve films made by the four partners, Portugal, Italy, Slovenia and the UK can be found on YouTube​user/​cinageproject.

01: 29

94‘If we knew what we were doing it wouldn’t be called research would it’ (Einstein)

95This statement, sometimes attributed to Einstein, was used as a slide in the live paper presentation and points to a creative research process that acknowledges the Uncertainty Principle.

01: 29–01: 30

96We decided to deliver our presentation as a series of letters — during the course of the project, we had written notes and thoughts and reflections to one another, partly as a way of figuring out what would come next and partly to help Teresa ‘catch up’ with the history of the project, as she only came to it after we had been working on the pilot for over three years.

97The images that we use in this segment illustrate the kind of challenges that the participants faced — for example, from 01: 50–01: 53 the scene of children sitting in front of blue fabric in the studio, is the shooting of the live action for the animated ‘blue screen’ film, ‘Papiyon Vole’, which was a very difficult technical challenge.

01: 30–02: 00

98The outcomes from the second cohort of CINAGE students, were four films:

99PAPIYON VOLE - based on the memories of a 65-year-old Martinique immigrant and how she could pass on important stories about her heritage to her grandson.

100DO NOT DISTURB - a ‘carry on’ style comedy set in an old people’s home looking at the desire to stay young and the stories we tell ourselves that allow us to believe in the fantasy of agelessness.

101STORMY WEATHER - the story of two sisters, one dying and the other finding a way to come to terms with her impending loss.

102SWANS ARE NOT THE ONLY BIRDS - examining the loss experienced in old age.

103Each of the participants in the CINAGE project were supported in writing a film script based on a personal narrative, and the group subsequently selected four of these scripts which then entered into the full development and production process.

02: 06–02: 11

104Moments taken from pre-production on the films made by the second cohort of CINAGE in 2016.

02: 11–02: 36

105In our conference presentation in Copenhagen, we chose to use our emails to one another, discussing the project as we experienced it, because these emails embody the personal voice and thus mirror the autobiographical narratives of the films.

02: 36

106‘We all feel safer when we know where we are going, but creative processes also require us to let ourselves get lost, to force ourselves into leaving the safety of the map behind so that we can surprise ourselves with what we find’ (Teresa Brayshaw). This, and other quotations, ideas and thoughts, were part of the PowerPoint conference presentation, but as we have the tools of playing with images, as filmmakers, this floating text is an alternative way of offering these snippets to the audience.

02: 36–03: 11

107Teresa is reflecting upon her first workshop with the 2016 CINAGE participants and the images were those shot during that workshop.

03: 00–03: 04

108When Teresa attributes ‘When All Else Fails — Dance’ to Beckett she is, of course, paraphrasing Estragon in order to make her point.

03: 11–03: 21

109These ten seconds are an illustration of manipulating the images and facts in order to visually support the words being spoken. Teresa talks about ‘working with a series of proposals, exercises, which I know from experience will encourage creative encounters, encouraging risk taking, problem solving… .’ however, the images for these ten seconds are not of the CINAGE 2016 participants, but are from a workshop we ran at the Copenhagen ‘Discourses we Live By’ conference, in which we delivered some of the methodology to colleagues.

03: 24–04: 07

110The images take us back to the 2016 CINAGE participants and a quotation from Solnit (A Field Guide to Getting Lost) appears on the screen. This is a visual representation of the layering of ideas and references that would be cited in a written ‘paper’. It gives the film audience an opportunity to savour the idea of ‘getting lost’ whilst remaining with the story Teresa and Jennifer are telling about the CINAGE project.

04: 10–06: 46

111Teresa introduces the idea of ‘writing a letter to your 16-year-old self’. We wanted to find a way to communicate to the film’s audience, the powerful impact the exercise had on the participants, so invited three of them to come into the studio and read their letters. The beauty of film is that one doesn’t need to hear them in their totality — well-chosen moments edited for pace and pathos, illustrate the process.

06: 46–06: 49

112Teresa is a qualified Feldenkrais practitioner and creates learning environments which support embodied knowledge. The positioning at this point in the film of the quotation ‘When you know what you are doing you can do what you want’ by Moshe Feldenkrais, returns us to the thematic enquiry around notions of certainty, knowledge and the exploration of wisdom which were key research questions during the development process.

06: 49–07: 08

113The images here are again taken from the workshop in Copenhagen where this time the conference participants also co-produced a creative response to one of the original CINAGE films — ‘Swans are not the only Birds’. This both evidences the application of the research methodology and further disseminates the outcomes. As Teresa states ‘… when these texts are shared, exchanged and bartered with, written over and written through and offered up to the collective writing process… there is the potential for some new and meaningful collective outputs’.

07: 08–07: 32

114The images that accompany Jennifer’s description of her teaching experience with older people as ‘students’ is accompanied by images of the 2016 cohort in the process of making their films.

07: 33–07: 39

115Here, Jennifer mentions her advocacy for making the University a space that is available and accessible to older people.

07: 39–08: 09

116This section describes the success of the project in terms of its intergenerational collaboration. The impact of the two age groups working together as a team provided unexpected, and rich, research opportunities as well as offering valuable experiential learning for our undergraduate students.

08: 09–08: 20

117Since this film was made, Leeds Beckett University has become the first ‘Age Friendly University’ in England.

08: 20–09: 04

118Because we are first and foremost creative practitioners, we did not want to focus solely on summative evaluations. We felt it necessary to share our own autobiographical narratives and learning experiences through phenomenological methodology.

09: 06–09: 49

119Teresa explores the idea and concept of creativity, how it affects us and how that translates and works in a creative practice. i.e., filmmaking.

09: 49–09: 57

120Teresa reflects upon her ideas concerning creativity and as she muses on ‘imagination’ we are transported via a Blue Screen studio to an animated world as remembered and imagined by our 65-year-old, Martinique participant who wrote ‘Papiyon Vole’!

09: 58 - end

121Terry Waddington, our oldest participant at 87, reads lines from works authored by T.S. Eliot, Bob Dylan, Sting, Robert Frost, Dante and Robert Browning as the trailer plays for the three original UK CINAGE films — ‘Swimming Pool’, ‘Trapped’ and ‘Know Thyself’.

Post-production: Reflecting on the Processes, Excerpts from the ESREA (2017) Presentation

122Jenny: I have had to find ways to deliver material to students who are hungry to learn but terrified about whether they can tackle something so difficult and outside of their experience. This part has been my major learning curve. In fact, of course, they have so much to offer in comparison to the usual undergraduate, richness of experience, humility, excitement and no sense of entitlement… as a result I have become a passionate advocate of making the university a space that is available and accessible to older people. The undergraduate students who have worked on the film crews making the older peoples’ films have told me that this has been the best experience of their time at film school.

123They were given respect for what they knew, loved being able to teach and lead, and learned to respect these old people who turned up at 6: 00 in the morning and worked full days to 10 at night with energy and commitment to make their films. All those involved last year are clamouring to work on this year’s films.

124To work without assessment, with no agenda or learning outcomes other than to pass knowledge on, to share expertise, to give opportunity for self-expression and to find new ideas to develop… my own practice has become more reflective and I feel as though I have found a rich area for practice and research… certainly for as many years as I have left!

125Teresa: I was surprised by the openness of the group to try things out — to have a go — to play, without the usual anxiety around meaning and end-gaining that is now so prevalent throughout undergraduate educational contexts. Of course, the levels of experience and expertise in the group were tremendous but nevertheless — I was particularly impressed by the quality of engagement in the proposal made which directly addressed the questions of ‘where am I now?’, ‘where am I going?’, ‘where have I been?’.

126I think I know where I’m going and what the next stage of my story is. Jan Baars in his book Ageing and the art of Living says… ‘In order to develop a more meaningful culture of ageing — a culture with more respect for the personal identity of aging individuals, is to pay more attention to the different stories that emerge from their reflected experiences.’

127So, with this in mind — in the next stage of Cinage Live — I’m going to make a theatre show with the new senior’s group about BREXIT — and then I’m going to tour it around Europe. It will be a piece which platforms their voices and opinions and tells the story of why the over 65s in the UK were more than twice as likely as the under 25s to have voted to leave the EU.

128Maybe then, through this process, I myself will begin to reconcile the shame, disappointment and deep sense of loss I still feel for the upcoming generation, as a result of the decisions/actions of many of our seniors.

129And — for so many reasons — as a teacher, as a mother, as an artist, as a human being — I need to do this practice — this research… In order to understand and process this deep sense of loss — I need to get lost — again!

130In her book, A Field Guide to Getting Lost, Rebecca Solnit explores the territory of losing something we care about, losing ourselves, losing control. Losing anything is about the familiar falling away, getting lost is about the unfamiliar appearing.

131At the start of this chapter we favoured Solnit’s highly evocative assertion that: ‘Never to get lost is not to live, not to know how to get lost brings you to destruction, and somewhere in the terra incognita in between lies a life of discovery’.

132We determined to seek the ‘terra incognita in between’, choosing to live a ‘a life of discovery’, and are set to continue along that route as are our elderly companions. Join us!


CREDITS: A Bibliography of Texts that Supported the CINAGE project

Baars, J. (2012). Ageing and the art of living. Baltimore, MD: The John Hopkins University Press.

Bannerman, C., Sofaer, J. & Watt, J. (eds) (2006). Navigating the unknown: The creative process in contemporary performing arts. London: Middlesex University Press.

Beringer, E. (ed) (2010). Embodied wisdom: The collected papers of Moshe Feldenkrais. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books.

Bogart, A. (2001). A director prepares. Abingdon: Routledge.

Bogart, A. (2007). And then, you act: Making art in an unpredictable world. Abingdon: Routledge.

Galliano, J. (ed) (2011). Dear me: A letter to my sixteen-year-old-self. New York: Atria Books.

Galliano, J. (ed) (2011). Dear me: More letters to my sixteen-year-old-self. London: Simon & Schuster.

Garr, L. (2015). Becoming aware. Carlsbad, CA: Hay House.

Heddon, D. (2008). Autobiography and performance. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Karpf, A. (2014). How to age. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

O’Malley, S. (2016). Advice from my 80-year-old-self. San Francisco, CA: Chronicle Books.

Read, A. (1995). Theatre and everyday life: An ethics of performance. Abingdon: Routledge.

Solnit, R. (2006). A field guide to getting lost. Edinburgh: Cannongate Books.

Zaporah, R. (1995). Action theatre: The improvisation of presence. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books.

Zuckerman, A. (2008). Wisdom. New York: Harry N. Abrams.


1 Different versions of the research process have been presented under the title of Senior Moments: Reflections on the CINAGE project and collaborative advances at The Association for Education & Ageing (AEA) in association with ForAge network; International Conference on Learning in Later Life; Theory, Policy and Practice: Open University Milton Keynes April 2016 — and subsequently published in the International Journal of Education and the Arts; ELOA (Network on Education and learning of Older Adults) Conference; Ageing in A Multi-Cultural World — individual and social contexts of learning, Wroclaw Poland 2016; ‘LeBeMe’ — Leeds Beckett Interdisciplinary Media Research Conference, January 2017; ESREA (European Society for Research on the Education of Adults) Life Histories and Biography Network Conference: ‘Discourses We Live By’, Copenhagen, March 2017.

2 ‘An educational method focusing on learning and movement, which can bring about improved movement and enhanced functioning’. See


Is Principal Lecturer in Performing Arts at Leeds Beckett University, UK, and works freelance as a Feldenkrais Teacher, Theatre Practitioner and Personal Development Coach in a range of international contexts. Her research centres upon creating environments in which people can learn through movement and awareness, to develop their innate potential and become happier and healthier as a result. She is co-editor of both the Twentieth century performance reader (2016) and The twenty first century performance reader (2020).

Retired as Principal Lecturer at Leeds Beckett University, UK, in 2018 returning to full-time practice as performer, writer and producer. Her practice focuses on adaptation — enabling and facilitating the members of the communities to which she belongs to learn new skills and create new methodologies to tell their stories. She is adapting her graphic novel, Prime suspects (2019), based around a mathematical theorem, into a live performance piece.


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