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Fanning The Flames at Luminate

The Flames is a new multi-media theatre group in Glasgow for performers aged over 50, created by Tricky Hat Productions. The Flames will launch on Wednesday 26 October with two performances at Glasgow’s CCA as part of Luminate. We find out more from Tricky Hat Artistic Director Fiona Miller.

Couples dancing - The Flames by Tricky Hat

Where did the idea for The Flames come from?

The idea developed from the work we do through Tricky Hat collaborating with many diverse organisations all over Scotland and working with a huge range of people. Often this involves working with people who don’t necessarily know they want to ‘do it’ yet. The idea for The Flames came from those who realise not just that they want to do it, but that they want to do more of it and be part of creating and developing their own performances.

I also felt as though there weren’t that many theatre opportunities that were open and non-prescriptive in the way The Flames is for people over 50.

It’s a chance for them to find their voice in a way they might never have before.- Fiona Miller, Artistic Director

Who can get involved with The Flames?

Anyone over 50 who wants to be involved! It really is as open as that. We’ve had people taking part who’ve never had any experience performing before, or maybe people who used to do it but haven’t in a long time. It’s completely open and we welcome everyone to try something new and take a chance with it.

The Flames rehearsal at CCA

What will The Flames set out to explore in their work and performances?

The performances really are completely dependent on the people involved so it’s interesting and exciting to find out what they’ll choose to explore.

General themes that have come out of previous work with older people have included the sense of invisibility some people experience, as well as how we see and perceive older people. Research from Age Scotland has shown that age-based discrimination starts from 50 so these are really relevant themes for this group.

Older People - The Flames by Tricky Hat

Beyond that, one really interesting thing we’ve seen being explored is the idea of risk. So whether that’s just the idea of trying something new and performing itself as risk, or how our sense of risk changes as we age and what things become risks that never were before.

But vitally, it really is all about the participants and what they want to do with this opportunity.

Why create a theatre group for specifically the over 50s?

The Flames has definitely developed from the experience we’ve gained over the past 16 years of working with older people through Tricky Hat, but I think as well as that it really came down to me asking myself “What do I want to be doing when I’m older?”. I think there aren’t really many opportunities like The Flames, and there is a ‘new’ older generation now who are looking for different things. A lot of these people might have worked their whole lives up to this point and never really found time to do something just for them. It’s a chance for them to find their voice in a way they might never have before.

Man on Stage - The Flames by Tricky Hat

I also think as well it’s interesting in that the type of work they create will be totally distinct - what you’re going to end up with will be so different from if you were working with a group of young people. The life-experience, the energy, all of that will dictate the sort of performance created and I find that in itself exciting.

What does it mean to be part of Luminate?

It’s fantastic. We’re delighted to be part of something bigger with a nationwide impact giving us a chance to reach even more people. I think for our participants as well it really adds value. They already feel the value of what they’re doing, but to have it formally recognised by inclusion in the Luminate programme is definitely very significant for them.

We’re really excited for the launch and performances on Wednesday 26 October at CCA. The piece has been devised in a really short amount of time so we’re looking forward to seeing how our audience responds.

The Flames - Red Glove

What next for The Flames?

Following Wednesday’s performances we’re hoping to get even more people involved. We know that there were people who wanted to take part this time around but dates just didn’t work out, so it’d be great to get ever more participants on board. We’re hoping to deliver two more performances next year, one around spring time and another a year from now to hopefully coincide with Luminate again.

I think we’re really seeing this as a first time to test the model, see what we can learn from it and how we can reach even more people with it. If we can bring The Flames to other parts of Scotland that’d be fantastic, we really just want to see how best to bring it forward.

Elderly couple - The Flames by Tricky Hat

You can see The Flames at the CCA in Glasgow on Wednesday 26 October at 2:30pm and 7pm. The Flames is supported by Creative Scotland through our Open Project Fund, as well as Luminate, The Robertson Trust and Glasgow Life.  Find out more about Tricky Hat at www.trickyhat.com.

Luminate, Scotland's creative ageing festival, runs throughout October, bringing together older people and those from across the generations to celebrate our creativity as we age, share stories of ageing and explore what growing older means to all of us. Luminate is one of our Regularly Funded Organisations 2015-18.

Image credits: woman with red glove by Kevin Low. All others by Kim Beveridge. Courtesy of Tricky Hat.

This article was published on 21 Oct 2016