“The Secret Lives of Extremely Old People” — a new stage play

Drawing of 6 extremely old people doing different things: typing, reading, singing, loving, resting. Looking pretty happy, too!
Six extremely old people glad to be alive

Let me tell you about our new play, which is causing quite a lot of excitement even months before it goes on stage. Title: The Secret Lives of Extremely Old People. By me, Rachel McAlpine, with tremendous inspiration and support from at least 30 people so far.

Bare bones outline of “Secret Lives of Extremely Old People”

Have you ever said (or thought), “I’d rather die than be that old” ? Enter the world of some contemporary nonagenarians and find out why they are glad to be alive. That’s what The Secret Lives of Extremely Old People is about.

I was shocked to the core when my GP predicted I would live to 99. Like most people, I had opinions about very old age but no experience. So I interviewed a bunch of local nonagenarians. Their revelations broke all the stereotypes.

The Secret Lives of Extremely Old People erupted from those conversations. All these elders have their own agenda. They riff, they rant, they rebel, they remember. Tragedy hovers in the background and death is drawing close. So why do they keep saying they are lucky? Deeper than data about old age, their stories are startling, exhilarating, and moving.

Highly entertaining, Secret Lives tells some amazing stories about real New Zealanders who have survived the Great Depression, two world wars, poverty, the shaming of LGBTQ+ and solo mothers, and Aotearoa before the Māori renaissance. They don’t pretend that thriving in old age is universal but show that for many of us, it’s possible. One of their secrets is that advanced old age holds as many joys for them as troubles. Who knew?

In the audience, you’ll have an experience that is fun — and far from superficial. Because very old age is not just for other people: ultimately, one day, with luck, this could be you. You’ll leave the theatre with a handful of role models who are uniquely themselves, even eccentric, but all alike in feeling lucky.

A few facts about Secret Lives of Extremely Old People

  • Based on interviews with 12 local people in their 90s, opinions about old age from 50 younger people, and quotes from a 100-year-old blogger
  • Of special interest to everyone concerned with growing old
  • A stellar production team and a sparkling script
  • Endorsed by Circa, Playmarket, Age Concern NZ and Dementia NZ
  • Chimes with New Zealand’s Healthy Ageing Strategy.

The Secret Lives of Extremely Old People will premiere at Wellington’s Circa Theatre on 24 November 2023, presented by the 90 Plus Group: Theatre against ageism. (Three shows are already booked out, even before Earlybird tickets go on sale.)

Perfect timing for your Christmas outing

Earlybird bookings are available at $30–$55 from 28 September—13 October.

Corporate sponsors: you need to book your matinee or evening show before Earlybird tickets open.

Follow Write Into Life

15 thoughts on ““The Secret Lives of Extremely Old People” — a new stage play

  1. This is inspirational (I’ll be 81 in July)

  2. josaiawrites says:

    Sounds wonderful! Will it be recorded so that those us us in other areas of the world might be able to have access to it? I’d love to see it!

  3. What a great idea! Sounds very intriguing.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Super-interesting for me!

  4. Rebecca Budd says:

    I am VERY exciting about your stage play, Rachel!!! All the very very best in this endeavour. Looking forward to hearing more!

  5. JT Twissel says:

    Congrats! I look forward to hearing how it goes!

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Thank you! Good to hear from you.

  6. Sadje says:

    This is so exciting Rachel. All the best my friend

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Yay! Your support boosts me 🙂

      1. Sadje says:

        My pleasure

  7. Elizabeth says:

    That is wonderful. My daughter(an actress) is working on staging the two person play about the Delany sisters based on their book about their first 100 years. If you haven’t read the book or the script, I think you would enjoy them.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      How fascinating! I will seek it out.

  8. A wonderful, inspiring project! I hope to see it!

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Say hello to me when you do 🙂