A new play looking at the experiences of growing old in Britain – based on stories and memories of older people in Bradford – will have its premiere in the city this spring.

Home Sweet Home is a production by Bradford theatre company Freedom Studios which explores, celebrates, challenges and stimulates debate about growing older in Britain.

Heading off on a tour following its Bradford premiere, the play will bring audiences into a fictional residential care home, a “universe that is both real and magical and where just about anything can happen around them”. From the ghost of care worker Iffty’s grandma performing a Bollywood showstopper to the plate-spinning care home manager trying to stop the walls from closing in, audiences will see a different side of life at “the home”.

Home Sweet Home aims to look beyond the label of ‘old age’; a label encompassing ten million people in the UK aged over 65, and aims to explore stereotypes of age.

The cast includes eight professional actors and a chorus of volunteer older people from Ukrainian, Italian, Pakistani, Caribbean, West African and white British communities who will tell their own stories – in Bradford, the Ukrainian Women’s Choir is one of the groups involved.

Director Tom Wright says the production will put older people centre stage “to confront and overcome our fears and assumptions”.

“I love making plays which challenge people’s prejudices. The more serious the issue, however, the more important it is to make the show as funny, moving, foot-stomping, magical and thrilling as possible,” he said.

“Talking to people about old age while researching this production, it’s clear how many of us are terrified about getting old. It is seen as an inevitable process of decline; a loss of our ability to make a difference in the world. The research showed that in fact we can often keep that ability to be active in the world simply by exercising it. But with a topic as provocative as this, we are going to have to be even more funny, tragic, foot-stomping, magical and thrilling than normal.

“One of the most exciting ways we’re challenging assumptions about old age is by involving older people right from the beginning of the project. The script was developed in dialogue with them, and we’re forming a chorus of older participants from our three partner cities; Bradford, London and Stockton, who will join the professional cast. By the end we’ll send them out, having had a cracking time, with a different view of what it means to get older.”

Written by Bradford playwright Emma Adams, Home Sweet Home will tour this autumn, supported by a mini-festival of performances and events in community venues such as libraries, church halls, residential homes and sheltered housing complexes, presenting a new way of looking at old age.

Some of the work has been funded by a Wellcome Trust Arts Award and includes arts workshops.

  • Home Sweet Home runs at the Ukrainian Centre, Legrams Lane, Bradford, from April 1-5, before returning to Bradford from September 15-20 following a tour. The production is suitable for audiences aged 12-plus. Tickets are available on (01274) 432000.