Quarantine Home
Old people, children and animals
PO Box 573
M32 2BZ

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...

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.

Why we made Old people, children and animals 

With Old people, children and animals we aimed to continue to develop a number of recurrent areas of enquiry for Quarantine. We wanted to explore questions about responsibility – not only with those close to us, but also around our role in civil society.  In a theatrical context, 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.

How we made it 

We recruited performers for Old people, children and animals through a series of contrasting visits to unsigned band nights and tea dances. We found four women over sixty who dance and three teenage girls in a metal band. Later we added two four year old girls(accompanied by their mothers), a jazz musician also in his sixties, plus 7 white rabbits and the inimitable Betty the parrot, through an animal acting agency.  

The process of making Old people, children and animals was much more difficult than we had imagined and looking back the show was a mixed success. We struggled to find material and ended up resorting to formula so that, 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 considerable food for thought about the risks we always take, but have somehow grown used to, in Quarantine’s work. For the performers there were many positives in spite of the difficulties of the process for the creative team. Audiences and critics responded warmly to the warmth and generosity of the show. 

“What will you do with my story?” one of the performers asks a man in the front row. “Treasure it,” comes the reply. 

(Alfred Hickling, The Guardian)

Resources available

  • Press
  • DVD
  • Article: Never work with children and animals: risk, mistake and the real in performance by Lourdes Orozco
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... Joyce McMillan, The Scotsman

Credits and performance details

Created with and performed by: Chloe Baines, Xyla Genovese-King, Bill Glasgow, Brenda Hickey, Maia McCarthy-Dupuy, Norma Raynes, Emma Royle, Sarah Royle, Maureen Stirpe, Kay Titterington.
Girl on film: Kendall Beckett

Director Richard Gregory; design Simon Banham; writer Sonia Hughes; choreographer Jane Mason; lighting designer Mike Brookes; sound designer Greg Akehurst; filmmakers Ruth Cross and Michael Clements; production Nick Millar and Greg Akehurst; assistant director Gareth Nicholls; stage manager Caroline Stanton.

Production details

Old people, children and animals was a co-production with Contact and Tramway, supported by Arts Council England, the Lankelly Chase Foundation and the Granada Foundation. It was performed at Contact in Manchester and Tramway in Glasgow in June 2008.