Old People, Children and Animals

Old people, children and animals brought together 18 performers – 5 in their sixties and seventies, 3 teenagers, 2 four-year olds and 8 animals.

Old people, children and animals continued to develop a number of  areas of enquiry for Quarantine. We wanted to explore questions about responsibility – not only those close to us, but also around our role in civil society.  We wanted to look at how audience and performers share responsibility for the performance itself. And of course, we wanted to challenge the theatrical axiom that we should “never work with children or animals” and through that the idea that there are groups of people who should be excluded from theatre-making.  And of course to examine the complex idea of working with non-human animals in art and our relationship with them.

A show in which people who don't fit the frame of showbiz stardom - the old people and children of the title - talk not about their social problems, but about the joy and sadness, poetry and philosophy of their lives ... a unique and delightful form of theatre that sits right on the cutting-edge of debate about what we mean by performance...

How we made it

We recruited performers for Old people, children and animals through visits to unsigned band nights and tea dances. We found 4 women over 60 who dance and 3 teenage girls in a metal band. Later we added a couple of 4 year old girls (accompanied by their mothers who sat in the audience), a jazz musician also in his 60s, plus 7 white rabbits and Betty the parrot, found through an animal acting agency.  

The process of making Old people, children and animals was more difficult than we had imagined – for reasons that surprised us - and the show was a mixed success. We struggled to find material and resorted to formula. Although perhaps there were some interesting sections, thought-provoking juxtapositions and even the odd beautiful theatrical moment, the piece as a whole was never entirely satisfying. It gave us food for thought about the risks we always take, but have somehow grown used to in Quarantine's work. For the performers there seemed to be positives in spite of the difficulties of the process for the creative team. Audiences and critics responded to the warmth and generosity of the show.