One could argue that all the “isms” are ludicrous; racism, sexism, heterosexism, etc., but they are at least a bit understandable, right? OK, there’s a “default” biological, reptilian fear of people who are “different” that’s transcended by education, understanding and relating to other people who are, well, er, “OTHER.” But ageism? Come on people! Is it that much of a stretch to look down the road and see that the people that are discriminators today will end up being discriminated against themselves?

I happen to believe that theater is the “mother” of culture. What producers can’t afford to put on the big screen, they can afford to put up on stage, especially small stages. That’s why the theater must incubate women, and women who are over 25 too. I have had been lucky enough to play incredible roles in theater and to have some really great jobs in TV too but they were all in my 20s and 30s. We’ve got to write employment “into” the canon, starting with the theater, if we’re going to have the full human family included in our story-telling.

One of the reasons I wrote “Now That She’s Gone” is that I was too young to have written my story before now. You could say that I hadn’t sustained enough losses before my 50s to have a perspective and long-view. That’s not to say that people who are young aren’t capable of being good or great writers. They are. Personally, I didn’t happen to be.

Theater to me is like a religious experience that’s not available on screen. The smells, the immediacy, the breath of a living being on stage is lost somehow on screen. I don’t know why that is. It’s a bit like the experiential difference between a music recording and a live concert. Anyone who has been lucky enough to start off in theater knows exactly what I’m talking about. It may be a bit of the thrill of seeing if someone will make it through without messing up. There’s adrenalin involved with live performance of any type, not only for the performer but for the audience too. And then, when there is a glitch? There’s the, “Whew, I’m glad that wasn’t me” or the little inner rubber-necker who can’t help looking at the car accident.

In one of my other “lives,” I’m a columnist for the Pasadena Weekly. If you’d like to see today’s column, go to:

Anyway, theater is a way for all of us to be on “display” for the others. To systematically “remove” one segment of our society is just stupid if not utterly wrong. I want to see how other people handle getting older, how they look, their issues, what they do with mortality breathing down their neck. We see men’s lives in so many of their stages. We need to see women at all stages too.

OK, so that’s my rant for today.
Talk to you tomorrow.

See you at the Hollywood Fringe!

About Ellen Snortland

Ellen Snortland has her J.D. from Loyola Law School, Los Angeles and her B.A. in theater and film from University of California, Irvine. Formerly adjunct faculty in the Communication Studies department of California State University Los Angeles, she has been a broadcast journalist, actor and writing/media coach. During law school, she co-founded the country’s first all woman theater of company upon observing the paucity of women-in-charge in all aspects of theater. She has been in theater since she was 14. As a journalist, Snortland is a regular columnist for the Pasadena Weekly, contributor to Ms. Magazine and Huffington Post blogger and now, LA FPI. Ellen has been an NGO delegate to two major United Nations World Conferences: the Women’s conference in Beijing in 1995 and Conference Against Racism in South Africa in 2001. An instructor in training and on the board of the 501 c 3 Impact Personal Safety of Los Angeles, Snortland is the author of “Beauty Bites Beast: Awakening the Warrior Within Women and Girls,” a how-come book about women’s personal safety. She is currently at work on a new book, “The Safety Godmothers” with her co-author and colleague, Lisa Gaeta of Impact Personal Safety. Ms. Snortland is also directing a documentary by the same name. She has also written and performs a solo show entitled, “Now That She’s Gone” which was nominated for a Pulitzer. She’s a professional writing coach for first time authors in private consultation or at one of her in-home classes. She lives in Altadena, CA with her beloved husband, Ken Gruberman and their two dogs.

2 thoughts on “Ageism

  1. Loved this post and the Going Solo one — you’re a great asset to LAFPI!!!

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