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Making Wallflower: Renny O’Shea – Dramaturg

Quarantine was established in 1998 by directors Richard Gregory and Renny O’Shea with designer Simon Banham. We make original theatre, performance and public events with and about the people who are in it. Whatever form it takes, our work begins and ends with the people in the room. Over the last 20 years, we've collaborated with a shifting constellation of artists, performers and people who've never done anything like this before. Our work seeks to create the circumstances for a conversation between strangers...

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Making Wallflower: Renny O’Shea – Dramaturg

Posted: 19 January 2017

On Saturday Jo said that it’s not about the performers fulfilling the task of remembering every dance, but about the audience making their own remembering narrative. It’s me watching a 12 year old Sonia dancing to Sister Sledge and seeing her 50 year old body in front of me.  It’s something of what Adrian Kear was talking about in Aberystwyth, the double.  But it’s even more than that, more than the double double, (did he say that, or did I just imagine it?) it’s the many many layers of that reality. And seeing too my 10 year old self and my 20 year old self loving dancing to Sister Sledge, a tragic bassline, a constant jerk back to the reality of the impossible knowing my complete inability to dance in any way like that now.  I suppose it’s like watching Simone Biles or David Rudisha, the beauty of their performances – unattainable pop stars doing something we kind of understand a bit, kind of feel it in our body – but know it’s out of our grasp and enjoy it anyway.


I love watching the performers dancing, I love watching people dancing, I stir to the music, I feel the joy.  And simultaneously feel the pain of my clumsy walk, my frozen hips, my smile which is both genuine and a mask for people not to notice me.  I know what kinaesthetic empathy is.  I want to cry.  It’s self-indulgent.  It’s all self indulgent isn’t it?  Then James as Michael Jackson overrides all the layers, simply makes me laugh with him.  And I’m 13 again remembering the self conscious showing off at the school disco (was it in Peg’s on the pier?) and it’s me up there out there loving it, and I want to cry again and so it goes on round and round…


Renny O’Shea is co-artistic director of Quarantine and dramaturg on Wallflower


Jo Fong lying on dancefloor_Wallflower_photo Kate Daley

Making Wallfower:
Jo Fong



Making Wallflower:
Greg Akehurst


Feet and cable_Wallflower_photo Kate Daley

Making Wallflower:
Jane Mason



Making Wallflower:
Hannah Hiett


James Monaghan_Wallflower_photo Kate Daley

Making Wallflower:
James Monaghan (Part 1)


Wallflower_James Monaghan_Jo Fong_[Simon Banham photo]

Making Wallflower:
James Monaghan – Dancer (Part 2)


Making Wallflower:
Richard Gregory