You can't take it with you
Michael Seymour is a former teacher who took up song writing after health issues challenged his teaching career. This progressed on to writing.
Michael’s latest screenplay, a musical comedy that challenges our perceptions of getting older, was inspired by a radio interview with Ashton Applewhite during her recent Australian tour (supported by the EveryAGE Counts campaign).
Michael spoke to the EveryAGE Counts campaign for this interview.
"I tuned in to Radio National whist Paul Barclay was interviewing Ashton Applewhite, which in turn led me to looking up the EveryAGE Counts campaign online and grabbing a copy of Ashton’s book, This Chair Rocks, from my local library. I was really motivated to make a contribution along the lines of Ashton’s work, to make a contribution to addressing ageism.
One thing that has struck me about older musicians and artists is that they never seem to want to retire, which can seem out of line with usual community expectations. They just love playing music, and find it hard to stop contributing.
This became the basis of the screenplay – called You Can’t Take It With You. A music therapist starts a new role in a retirement village, with low expectations from the seemingly docile and sleepy residents. This opening confirms her preconceptions about the people that she will be working with. She soon discovers, though, that they’re exhausted after sneaking out the night before to play a fundraising gig at the local pub…
The music therapist has her preconceptions unfolded, and she herself becomes transformed along with her assumptions of what it means to get older. The story can take its audience on their own journey of reflection on the assumptions we make about older people in our community, and therefore how we treat them.
I’vw been on a bit of a similar journey myself. I believe that if you don’t have a job, you’ve got to have a project. This has led me to connecting with groups of songwriters in Northcote (Melbourne), of all ages. Everyone supportive of each other whilst we enjoy exploring our own work. I had some health issues that made it difficult to continue my career, but that’s led me on a more creative path towards writing this screenplay. This isn’t something that I thought I would ever be able to do, but I’ve shown that I can start this new enterprise at this time of my life.
I think the story has a lot to contribute to people’s assumptions about getting older, and addressing ageism. I’m bursting at the seams now to find a producer who could take this story on."
If you’d like to speak to Michael about his story, including producers interested in hearing more about You Can’t Take it With You, you can reach out via the EveryAGE Counts contacts page on this website and we’ll pass it on.