Television host and screenwriter, Tom Gleisner has channelled his creativity into combatting ageism with his new musical about aged care, Bloom.
Having seen the realities of aged care by navigating the system with his in-laws and his own father, the Have You Been Paying Attention icon knows first-hand the ‘less-than-human’ treatment older people receive both in the community and in aged care.
“The sunken eyes and slumped-over bodies stuck in front of an André Rieu DVD. The danger is that you start to think these people are all the same,” he told The Guardian.
As Mr Gleisner’s first step into the world of musicals, he is accompanied by singer, actor and composer Katie Weston and director Dean Bryant to tell a tale inspired by a Dutch aged care facility that offered local students free boarding in exchange for care work.
Bloom follows struggling music student, Finn, played by Slone Sudiro, who takes up a similar opportunity in a Melbourne aged care facility. In the musical, Finn battled with his own prejudices about older people and experiences conflict with the dictatorial owner of the facility, Mrs MacIntyre – played by Anne Edmonds.
While the aged care system battled the repercussions of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety’s final report and the COVID-19 pandemic, Mr Gleisner was conscious not to add fuel to the fire but also depict reality.
“Too often in films or television, old people are the punchline,” he explained.
Bloom is in theatres now at the Arts Centre, Melbourne until August 19.