Stories of Age


Anne Basting has told the story before: How she was volunteering in a nursing home years ago and tried to get a roomful of residents to do memory exercises, to no avail. How, switching gears, she tore a photograph of the Marlboro man out of a magazine and asked the residents to give him a name. How they called him Fred, and how Fred morphed into Fred Astaire, and how they made up a story about Fred Astaire, laughing and singing and giving voice to their imaginations and idled memories.

Basting had just finished her doctoral dissertation on the representation of age in American theater. She returned week after week to the nursing home – “one of the bleakest I’ve ever been in,” she recalls – and ran the same exercise using different pictures. Each time, she got the same enthusiastic responses.

Read the full article at UWM Research Report