Prime Theatre, a new touring company offering work to performers, writers and technicians over the age of 60, has been launched by actor Edward Woodward.
Founded by Ros and Peter Liddiard, the company also aims to create work that will appeal to an older audience.
Artistic director Ros Liddiard said: “It’s perceived older actors feel a little bit marginalised, not because they aren’t usable, but there does tend to be a lack of older parts. It is a very youth-orientated business, and also a lot of older people are on the circuit needing to display their talent and their creativity.
“We talked to a lot of older people who said they’re not getting the sort of theatre they want to see. We try to honour the need to have some plays which don’t have aggression, don’t have nudity, don’t have bad language.”
Funded by the Arts Council England and the Lottery Fund, the company’s first full production – Aleksei Arbuzov’s Old World – is set to tour the country from September 25 to November 18. The final four weeks of the show will run at north London’s Courtyard Theatre.
Last month the Winchester-based company trailed its works to residents of care homes for the elderly – producing a small variety show of sketches and songs that evoked trends of the thirties, forties and fifties.
Woodward, who is patron of the group, has enjoyed a lengthy and successful career in TV series such as Callan and lead film roles in The Wicker Man and Breaker Morant but said all performers struggled to find work as they became older.
He added: “Even today, actors still suffer badly from ageism. By providing work for older actors, Prime Theatre is filling a gap in the profession.”