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UBC Healthy Aging Seminar: ‘Acting’ Old(er): How Theatre and Performance Help Us Re-imagine Possibilities for “Healthy Aging”

February 15, 2023 @ 11:00 am - 12:00 pm


Cultural discourses shape our understandings of what it means to age and be old(er) – they can open up possibilities or limit our imaginations by telling us what is acceptable, possible, or shameful in old(er) age, and what “healthy aging” might mean. Theatre and performance are particularly rich sites for conveying cultural age narratives. They can also be mobilized as meaningful occupations, for both performers and audiences, as a way to counter negative representations of aging and old(er) age and re-imagine possibilities for doing, being, becoming, and belonging as we grow old(er). Incorporating narrative theory, critical theory (especially age studies and disability studies ), and the lens of occupational science, Dr. Henderson presents an overview of her program of research and highlights several specific projects which focus on (1) fostering positive and authentic images of aging, older age, and intergenerational relations; (2) developing and promoting practices of reciprocal care, citizenship, and community building; (3) and building and supporting activism for older adults.

Speaker Biography: Dr. Julia Henderson is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy at the University of British Columbia. She holds a Master’s of Science in Rehabilitation (Queen’s), a PhD in Theatre (UBC), and completed a Postdoctoral Fellowship in Communication Studies (Concordia). Her research projects apply the lenses of critical age studies, theatre and performance studies, and occupational science. Her recent projects include collaborative creation with people with lived experience of dementia, analysis of narratives of aging and older age in public performances, and creative accessibility approaches for older adult performers. She is Creative Accessibilities Facilitator with Western Gold Theatre, a professional senior theatre company in Vancouver, Canada and Vice Chair of the North American Network in Aging Studies.

This lecture may be viewed in-person at the Rudy North Lecture Theatre in the Centre for Brain Health at UBC or over Zoom. A light lunch will be provided for those attending in person.

To connect via Zoom:

Zoom Meeting ID: 98589 778241

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